Retired Nissan Chief Designer Discusses Company’s Future EV Plans, Confirms Sedan, SUV Coming

7 days ago by Eric Loveday 48

2018 Nissan LEAF (check out more camo-laden shots of the next LEAF here)

In a recent, rather candid interview with Autocar, Shiro Nakamura, Nissan’s chief designer of 17 years, but now retired, made some electric car-related comments.

Nissan Rogue Next Candidate For Electrification?

For background, we should note that Nakamura is indeed responsible for the Nissan LEAF’s design.

When asked:

Will Nissan ever make a city car again?

Nakamura responded:

“City cars are not easy. If we could bring a Japanese kei car here it would be nice, but we can’t do that! A kei car could be a great city car. In the future, a city car could be a small EV.”

But the bigger revelation came when Nakamura was asked this question:

Can we expect more electric models in addition to the Leaf?

His response?

“There will be many types of EVs in the future. The Leaf is a model, not a brand. As for other electric models, yes – a saloon, an SUV, but a sports car is difficult. EVs are not only for Nissan, but also for Infiniti. A new Leaf is coming, followed by some other body type.”

As for the next generation of LEAF, Nissan has confirmed it will debut this September and go on sale shortly thereafter.

And our guess on that “other body type?” A crossover seems most likely to us. Perhaps an electric Rogue?

Source: Autocar

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49 responses to "Retired Nissan Chief Designer Discusses Company’s Future EV Plans, Confirms Sedan, SUV Coming"

  1. ClarksonCote says:

    What is a “saloon” is that another term for sedan? I haven’t heard that before.

    1. cros13 says:

      Saloon is sedan in proper english.

      1. Mad says:

        I’m American. You can take that proper and shove it right up your British ass.

        1. Mad dog and an Englishman says:

          I say!
          😉

          1. ffbj says:

            ..go out in the noon-day sun.

        2. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ sven says:

          Arse is ass in proper english.

          1. ffbj says:

            When I think of the British I think of potty humor, bad teeth, good acting, and snap elections.

            1. English Madman says:

              And when I think of the Americans I think of political illiteracy and its consequences.

              So sad!

              1. Scramjett says:

                “Britain. Europe’s America.”

                -John Oliver

                🙂

            2. John says:

              At least British people don’t fly around the world bombing children like Americans (weapons testing)..

              1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

                I’m sure that would have come as a great comfort to the victims of genocide by the British Empire, practiced on natives of Australia, New Zealand, and most especially the almost completely exterminated natives of Tasmania.

                /sarcasm

                People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Especially not when their house is much, much more fragile than the house they’re throwing stones at.

                1. Peter says:

                  it didnt happen in New Zealand. But we digress, can we stay away from politics please

              2. English Madman says:

                And the indiscriminate carpet bombing of Dresden never happened; nor did the Opium Wars (new verifiable alternative facts for the Drumpfian era).

                1. Bill Howland says:

                  Well, England had “Bomber Harris”, but we’ve got Trump, apparently. I was a reluctant supporter of him, but I’m totally off the bandwagon now… Just another used car salesman. I’ll never believe another word he says.

                  Other than he’s making America Great for 70 Billionaires. And just as the ‘most transparent’ Obama administration turned out to be rather obtuse, likewise Trump is not revealing who comes and goes. Meet the new boss same as the old boss.

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        “Saloon is sedan in proper english.”

        If you’re going to be “proper” about it, then you should learn to spell it properly: English, not english.

        There even are places where English completely disappears./
        In America they haven’t used it for years!

        — Henry Higgins, My Fair Lady

        1. Bill Howland says:

          “The Wise Man speaks since he has something to say.

          The FOOL speaks since he must say something.”

          1. Nick says:

            “Better to say nothing and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”

            – Unknown

    2. Gibber says:

      I have been begging for a BEV Rogue on every survey Nissan sends me, can’t wait!

  2. Brian says:

    “A sports car is difficult”

    Yes, there is some truth to that statement. A proper sports car should be light and responsive and a heavy battery goes against that. However, that doesn’t mean that an EV cannot be sporty. Please, Nissan. You know how to make fast, fun cars. Please make your EVs faster. The Leaf is pretty much the slowest EV you can buy in 2017.

    1. David Murray says:

      Technically the i-Miev is still available and the Leaf will run circles around it… but yeah, I agree with you. I hope Leaf 2.0 is faster.

      1. sveno says:

        Does anyone remember the Lancer Evolution MIEV?

    2. Jon W says:

      Tesla started with a roadster.

      GT-E, anybody?

    3. mx says:

      How about a car with a sport’s flair.
      Like you can’t tune an EV to handle?
      Fully independent suspension?
      Vented Disks?
      Put in a bigger electric motor and get 0-60 in 7 seconds?

    4. JeffD says:

      They could do like Renault did with a concept Zoe and drop a Formula E motor in it. They also tuned a bunch of other things to make it sporty. If they can do it to a Zoe, they should be able to do it to a Leaf as well.

  3. R.S says:

    The problem with sports cars is that they already aren’t that popular. With the EV market being smaller in general, it is kind of hard to build a sports car, that is electric, but not too expensive.

    So they would need an existing platform to keep development costs low and the Leaf platform isn’t really a sports car platform, rather the total opposite.

    Just look at how long the Nissan Z370 has been around without a refresh. I doubt they would want to spend big bucks on something that unpopular.

    1. David Murray says:

      Well, I live in Truck/SUV country… and I still see more Camaros and Mustangs going down the road than I do any sort of Plug-in car.

      1. R.S says:

        Now multiply the ratio of Mustangs and Camaros to SUVs, with the ratio of plug ins to non plug ins and you’ll arrive at the amount of sports car EVs, you’d see driving around.

        Additionally, it is easier for some brands, than for others. Camaro and Mustang, like the Porsche 911, or even the Mazda Miata, have a certain cult following, that insures way over average sales. Nissan doesn’t really have that. Even the famous GTR doesn’t really sell so well, compared to similarly priced sports cars, like the Porsche 911.( 698 to 8900, in 2016)

        1. BenG says:

          You’re right. Sports cars aren’t very popular. But sporty cars are pretty popular.

          The base Leaf 2 doesn’t need to be sporty, but there should be a sporty variant of it available within a couple years of launch, IMO.

          I also think you could probably take many of the building blocks of the Leaf 2 and reconfigure/tweak them to make a rear-drive 2+2 sports car that would harken back to the old Zs: affordable, fun and economical. Could get some solid number of sales out of that I think.

          1. R.S says:

            A sporty Leaf would be a totally different story. Sports versions of regular cars are the main reason why sports cars have been disappearing for years.

            A Leaf GTI, or something like that, would definitely sell. And it wouldn’t be too expensive to design. Just give it a different suspension and a more powerful motor.

            A 2+2 coupe could be more difficult, from a financial standpoint. Mercedes says that they will only change the body of a car, if it sells more than 30k a year. Which sounds tough for a 2+2 coupe EV. Especially since Nissan doesn’t really sell in the same circles as Mercedes, so they’d probably need more sales, to justify the different body type.

            Even VW can’t really make the Sirocco profitable and the guys at VW are really good at platform strategies.

            At the end of the day Nissan finally needs their EVs to be successful. The first Leaf flopped spectacularly, so the trifold of hatchback, SUV and sedan, would make the most sense.

            1. CLIVE says:

              There are more Leaf’s on the road then any other electric car. And more Leaf’s sold. I hardly consider that a FLOP.

              Leaf 2 is a whole new level for Nissan.

              They have much skin in the game.

              1. R.S says:

                Did you know they had a production capacity of 150k Leafs, just in the US plant, even back in 2013. Globally Nissan could have sold almost 300k a year, but they will probably just reach 300k cumulatively.

                Nissan has spent up to 6 billion on their EV project, from R&D to production facilities for batteries. If in the end they will have sold 300k Leafs, they would have needed each Leaf to carry 50+% gross margin, just to break even.

                The Leaf is a great car, but Nissan grossly overestimated demand, so from a financial perspective, it was quite the flop.

                1. Brian says:

                  An excellent point. However, that investment will roll forward into Leaf 2 as well as other EV models. So it makes sense to me that Nissan would expand their lineup. Adding a new car does not require the same investment as setting up for EVs in the first place.

                  Time for Nissan to get some real EV volumes (as compared to ICEVs, not just other EVs)

                  1. R.S says:

                    Yea, that is what I am trying to say. Nissan needs to finally achieve the sales they set out to deliver back in 2011. And that works best with many different cars in popular segments.

                    I also think this is the reason why we don’t see too much change with the new Leaf, other than a new battery and a few, but important, cosmetic changes. But no new platform, or even motors. They still have all that production capacity and really want to make use of it.

            2. John Ray says:

              How did the Leaf flop? The Leaf has outsold all Teslas 2.5:1 worldwide. The Leaf has handily outsold Tesla in Tesla’s home market the U.S. That Tesla has been a real flop. LOL.

              1. R.S says:

                If you have the production capacity to build 300k Leafs each year, but you only sell close to 60k in your best year, I would consider it a flop.

                Not that the Leaf isn’t a good EV, but Nissan overestimated the EV market, so the Leaf flopped, at least financially.

              2. CLIVE says:

                RS sees the Glass half empty

                I see it half full.

                1. R.S says:

                  Well, the way I see it it was only 20% full in it’s best years. But it was kind of a big glass, so it contained more liquid than the other, much smaller, glasses.

    2. Bacardi says:

      A new ICE Miata is $26K, why no one seems to want to a make a sub $40K Roadster is beyond me…Half of all EVs are sold in fair weather California many would use the vehicle as a second vehicle/commuter…

      1. R.S says:

        The Miata was sold about 10k times last year in the US, that’s why.

        Engineering costs money and eats up resources you could use to develop an electric SUV like the Rouge, of which Nissan sold 40k in March alone, while probably bringing in more cash per car sold, than the Miata.

        If you were in charge at Nissan and you looked at those sales figures, what would you decide to be designed next, an electric SUV, or an electric roadster?

        At some point adding a fun little roadster to the mix could work, but right now the priorities should be elsewhere.

      2. The Mazda RX7 entered tha market back in the 70’s at about $10,000-$12,000, but when it exited the market, it was in the $50,000 neighborhood!

        I had a 1983 RX7 GSL-SE, but mine had an Arkay Aftermarket Turbo. I bought it used, in 1984, on consignment, at a BC Dealer, for $18,000 + 5% consignment fee! At the time, my work pay/wages were about $12.34, if I remember correctly!

        So a $55,000 Tesla Model 3, in Canadian $, would be about equal in relative cost. Will it deliver the same crazy speeds as my RX7? (I was not able to take it to any track or testing place and get 0-60, or 1/4 Mile numbers, but it could blast through to redline of 6,500 Rpm, in all 5 gears!)

        I saw a top speed of 215 Kph on the RX7, or 135 Mph, so it will be interesting to see if the Model 3 can top that! (Model S is is listed as a top speed of 155 Mph, in large battery models.)

        So, it would seem Nissan is not yet ready to build an Electric replacement for even their old Datsun 240Z! I bet they could, if they wanted, but it seems they still favor gas in ICE vehicles for their performance territory: GTR, is it?

  4. TP says:

    I think an EV version of the Rogue or Murano would be great.

    1. Lou Grinzo says:

      Yep. The Rogue is selling like crazy in the US, so a Rogue EV, or even a Rogue Sport EV (sport = the new, slightly smaller version) would sell as fast as Nissan could screw ’em together, if offered at anywhere a reasonable price.

  5. I wish they had discussed things like aerodynamic drag, and designing for efficiency.

    1. Warren says:

      No! Give us SUVs, and pickup trucks….with 500 mile range. Peabody can show Bolivia how it’s done. And when we’re done here, we can move to Mars.

  6. Bacardi says:

    It’ll probably be the Juke…

  7. Wizard says:

    Nope, it will be something built on the NV 200 chassis.

    1. William says:

      Interesting to consider the NV 200 platform. I was hoping for an EV Rouge, or worst case EV Murano, but your Van chassis is already doing well with Nissan EVs in Europe.

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