It's hard to overstate how weird things have been at Nissan in recent years. Sure, everybody knows about the scandal that ended with former megaboss Carlos Ghosn getting smuggled into Lebanon in an instrument case. But there was also a resulting exodus (and purge) of talent following that ordeal, all while the automaker has spent years in a complex renegotiation with its uneasy but long-term alliance partner, Renault.

Basically, Nissan has had a lot on its plate for a while. Now it's giving the world a few more details on its comeback plan, especially as it seeks to catch up in the electrified arena where it was once a pioneer. 

That kicks off this Monday edition of Critical Materials, our morning news roundup. Also on today's docket: we look at this week's upcoming New York Auto Show, and ask: is the threat from Chinese EVs overblown? Let's dig in. 

30%: Everybody Get In 'The Arc'

Nissan The Arc

Some of the chaos I listed above has left Nissan in a weird place. Take its presence in the U.S., for example. It only sells two EVs here, one of which is the groundbreaking but now aging and soon-to-be-discontinued Leaf; the other is the Ariya, which has had its share of production problems. Nissan sells no hybrids here, either, despite once having several of them across the lineup. One has to wonder how much longer it can run on its aging fleet of V6-powered cars. 

Today in Japan, CEO Makoto Uchida gave us a preview of the fix-up plan, which he calls "The Arc." It's a strategy to bridge the gap between where Nissan is now and where it aims to be from 2030 onward. Here are some of Nissan's highlights, quoted directly from the presentation:

  • Nissan targets additional 1-million-unit sales compared to fiscal year 2023 and operating profit margin of more than 6% by end of fiscal year 2026
  • 30 new models to be launched by fiscal year 2026, of which 16 will be electrified
  • 60% of internal combustion engine (ICE) passenger-vehicle models to be refreshed by fiscal year 2026
  • EV competitiveness to be enhanced by reducing cost of next-generation EVs by 30% and achieving EV and ICE vehicle cost parity by fiscal year 2030
  • Significant next-generation EV cost reduction to be achieved through grouped “family” development, with vehicle production under the approach starting in fiscal year 2027
  • Strategic partnerships expanded into technology, product portfolio and software services
  • Dividends and buybacks to target total shareholder return of more than 30%
  • New business ventures to unlock a potential 2.5 trillion yen in additional revenues by fiscal year 2030

It's more of an investor-focused presentation, lighter on product details, although Uchida said the goal is "an accelerated transition to EVs, supported by a balanced electrified/ICE product portfolio." In the U.S., that includes seven all-new models, a refresh of nearly 80% of the current lineup, and finally, some e-Power and plug-in hybrid models.

As a reminder, e-Power is Nissan's term for series hybrids, EVs with smaller battery packs and gas engines that serve as generators but do not drive the wheels; you might also call these "range extender" hybrids or EVs, and I think a lot of automakers are about to make a big bet on those soon. 

This part is also important: bringing down costs for the consumer, and for Nissan too.

The product offensive will be supported by new development and manufacturing approaches aimed [at making] EVs more affordable and [increasing] profitability. By developing EVs in families, integrating powertrains, utilizing next-generation modular manufacturing, group sourcing, and battery innovations, Nissan aims to reduce the cost of next-generation EVs by 30% (when compared to the current model Ariya crossover) and achieve cost-parity between EVs and ICE models by fiscal year 2030.

Also on the table: cheaper LFP batteries, better energy density and lower costs:

Nissan will offer enhanced NCM li-ion, LFP and all solid-state batteries to provide diversified EVs to meet different customer needs. Nissan will significantly enhance NCM li-ion batteries, reducing quick-charging time by 50% and increasing energy density by 50% compared to the Ariya. LFP batteries, to be developed and produced in Japan, will be launched that will reduce cost by 30% compared to the Sakura EV minivehicle. New EVs with enhanced NCM li-ion, LFP and all-solid-state batteries will be launched in fiscal year 2028.

As Automotive News reports today, Nissan could use the shot in the arm. Its operating profit margin is below forecasts, worldwide sales are down to only 3.7 million (a number that was 5.52 million in 2019) and it's got factory upgrades to make worldwide so it can pull any of this off.

As Uchida put it, “We need to change the way we plan, develop, manufacture and sell cars." Not a tall order at all. 

60%: New York Auto Show Kicks Off This Week


It's springtime in New York City, and that means one thing: freak, surprise snowstorms right when we all thought it was getting warm again. Okay, fine, it means two things. That, and the New York Auto Show. That event kicks off this week and your InsideEVs crew will be there to cover it.

Except there's not a ton to cover at this show, which like many auto shows, has become considerably diminished in terms of what news comes out of it. Still, there are some important things here. The Polestar 3 and Polestar 4 make their North American debuts, and Genesis is unveiling a new concept tonight it has said very little about. (We were invited to see it, so I assume it runs on some form of electricity.) 

But I think the vibes from this show will be important too. Last year's NY Auto Show had EVs everywhere, including multiple dedicated test tracks and a huge presence from charging companies. As we all know, the rate of EV adoption has slowed for 2024, although the situation is far less apocalyptic than many have claimed. Will the show present an electric future, or are automakers running a bit scared? We'll find out.

90%: How Afraid Should The U.S. Be Of China's EV Industry?

BYD Seal Top

The massive success and cutting-edge technology seen by China's automakers—BYD and a few others in particular—have the rest of the industry fairly freaked out, especially as that company seems all but guaranteed to have a Mexican factory in the coming years.

How worried should the U.S. automakers really be? In a new op-ed for Industry Week, analyst and friend of InsideEVs Sam Fiorani and economics professor (and ex-General Motors exec) Warren Browne go against the grain a bit. They argue the threat is a bit overblown. They look at three possible "built-in-Mexico" scenarios, because sanctions there would have a big impact on things like Chinese cars already sold in the U.S. (think Buick and Polestar) and on auto supplier companies:

Be careful what you ask for. If the U.S. needs an enhanced industrial policy that would protect GM, Ford and Stellantis, then it needs to be comprehensive, and transparent to trading partners. It needs to comprehend a rewrite and congressional approval of the USMCA agreement, more local content requirements and joint-venture requirements for investment in the United States. 

A ban on Chinese brands due to national security reasons would need to be long-lasting and specific. Automotive suppliers should listen to the rhetoric. More importantly, they should continue to press U.S. trade representatives and political candidates to support any claims with a rational look at the data and assumptions. 

Worth a read in full.

100%: Can Nissan Get Its Groove Back?

These are interesting promises from Nissan, but we won't really see the potential fruits of it until about 2027 at the earliest. Can the automaker hold out until then, and what do you want to see from Nissan long-term?

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