Nissan senior vice president Shiro Nakamura, in an interview with AutoCar, says the company is hard at work on a new vehicle architecture suitable for both conventional and electric powertrains. “We don’t want to limit our EVs just to the Leaf,” said. “We’re the leading EV manufacturer, but I don’t think we can make it just off one EV, so we want to grow the portfolio — that’s our next plan. It could be a crossover, it could be a sports car; we see much more opportunity for EVs than just a hatchback.”
Those simple words clearly illustrate why Tesla is poised to take over the car business. Every other manufacturer is hedging its bets by building cars that can be powered by any source — gasoline, diesel, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery, CNG, LNG, propane, fuel cell, or magic dust. Only Tesla is all in on electric cars. It is years ahead of the competition. By the time the others get where Tesla is today, its lead on the industry will have only increased.
Nakamura says Nissan is thinking about making an electric sports car. Really? What is the sports car share of the global market — 1%? 2%? Why divert precious resources to build a sports car when the need for a long range electric car is critical? Nissan will be limping along with a short range sedan for another 2 years. By the time the second generation LEAF arrives, the original car will be nearly 8 years old. That’s an eternity in the car business.
Nissan may also build an electric crossover — some day. Well, d’uh, Nakamura-san. The crossover is only the hottest segment of the car market. Why in the world don’t you have an electric crossover in showrooms right now? How difficult would it be to turn the LEAF into a 5 door hatchback? Why are Chevrolet and Tesla able to promise electric cars with at least 200 miles of range when Nissan is stuck with a wimpy 107 mile battery?
Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault/Nissan says he welcomes the competition from the Tesla Model 3. Really, Carlos? You have nothing in the pipeline that can touch the Model 3. For the same money, you are offering the public an ugly 8 year old car with no autonomous driving capability, an outdated interior, and embarrassingly little range for the same money. You think your car is competition for the Model 3? Oh, please.
Last week in Berlin, Daimler shareholders gave senior management an earful about why it has no answer for the Model 3. Nissan shareholders could ask the same question of Ghosn. All the top car executives in the world are beating their gums about how they will have cars to compete with Tesla in 5 years or so. And every time they make those claims, they admit just how much Tesla has caught them by surprise with their pants down around their ankles.
So Nissan, go ahead. Build your electric sports car for 2021 — if you are still in business by then.