On Wednesday, Nissan Motor Co unveiled its first global model in the last five years – the Ariya electric SUV in the hope that it will lead to its recovery following a year of scandal eating into its earnings.
According to sources with knowledge of the matter at hand, initial plans through for the Ariya are modest, indicating that Nissan is taking a cautious approach to lift its bottom line.
The Ariya featuring Nissan’s latest self-driving technologies has a driving range comparable to Tesla models and comes with a price tag of around $47,000 (5 million yen), making it more upscale than the X-Trail SUV, Nissan’s top-selling global model known as the Rogue in North America.
“We were under orders from management not to make any compromises with this model as it represents where the company stands today and will lead to the Nissan of the future,” said Hikaru Nakajima, Ariya’s chief engineer.
According to two sources, Nissan plans on selling at least 30,000 Ariyas globally this year.
Although it may seem a little bit on the lower side, it is a pointer to market conditions and increasing competition in the electric vehicle segment dominated by Tesla Inc.
“It’s a bit underwhelming,” said a source in reference to the sales target. “Is this going to be a vehicle that brings a halo effect to the brand or not?” said the source.
The Ariya will go on sale from mid-2021 in Japan. Nissan will disclose the timeline for sales in the United States, Europe and China at a later point of time.
According to a source, the automaker plans on producing 40,000 units in Japan in 2021, and eventually ramp up the production to 100,000; producing the Ariya in China is also on the cards.
In comparison, the Rogue and the X-Trail have a combined sales of more than half a million units in Nissan’s key markets during 2019. Incidentally, last year, Tesla’s Model 3 recorded sales of more than 300,000.
Sources preferred the cover of anonymity since they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Nissan’s spokeswoman declined comment on sales and production targets.
One of the reasons why Nissan is keeping its cards close to its chest could be because the Ariya’s direct competitor will be Tesla’s Model Y SUV crossover, whose deliveries have already begun in March and which are priced at around $50,000; Ford’s Mustang Mach-E SUV, which is scheduled to be launched later this year and is expected to be priced similarly, is also a competitor.
The long range version of Ariya, which has a range of up to 610 kilometers on a single charge, is ahead of Tesla’s Model Y, which has a mile range of 505 kilometers.
The Ariya will also be Nissan’s first model to sport a revamped badge, which uses a flatter, thinner typeface and a skinnier circular emblem. According to two sources, this will soon become Nissan’s new global corporate logo.
($1 = 107.38 yen)