Nissan lays out $17.6 billion plan to electrify its future

Nissan is the latest automaker to announce a plan to spend gobs of money on an ambitious electrification strategy. The company said it will spend 2 trillion yen (around $17.6 billion) over the next five years to accelerate the roll-out of electric vehicles. And to emphasize that point, Nissan unveiled a pack of delightful EV concepts, including an adorable pickup truck, an outdoorsy SUV, and a sleek sports car.

It’s an impressive commitment, but Nissan notably stopped short of making the same promise that other automakers have to phase out the production of gas-powered vehicles. For example, Volvo and General Motors have vowed to become EV-only companies by 2030 and 2040, respectively.

Nissan said it will produce 23 new electrified models by 2030, 15 of which will be fully electric. The company is targeting a 50 percent electrification mix for its Nissan and Infiniti brands by the end of the decade. In the US, Nissan plans to take things a little slower, only targeting 40 percent of its sales to be EVs by 2040.

On batteries, Nissan is pursuing what it calls “all-solid-state batteries (ASSB)” by 2028. The company is preparing a “pilot plant” in Yokohama, Japan, for early 2024. Solid-state batteries could theoretically charge faster, hold more power, and last longer than traditional lithium-ion batteries, which use liquid electrolytes to move energy around. While solid-state batteries have eluded researchers for years, some companies claim that a breakthrough is nearly at hand.

Nissan says that solid-state batteries will help make EVs more affordable by reducing the price of battery packs down to $75 per kWh by 2028. The company aims to bring it further down to $65 per kWh to achieve cost parity between EV and gasoline vehicles in the future.

To underline its commitment to an electric future, Nissan revealed a handful of EV concepts: a small pickup truck called Surf-Out; a boxy crossover called Hang-Out; a SUV called Chill-Out; and a convertible sports car called Max-Out.

Nissan didn’t release any specs or details about the future, but from the look of it, the Chill-Out concept SUV seems to be closest to production. It looks similar to the Ariya but utilizes the company’s smaller CMF-EV platform, which means it will probably be slightly cheaper than the $47,000 Ariya.

The Max-Out is the sportiest concept, with a low-slung stance and an emphasis on speed and performance. Nissan says that it will include dynamic cornering and a steering response that’s balanced with limited body roll to optimize driver and passenger comfort.

The Hang-Out is presented as an amalgam of mobility and “personal space,” with a lounge-like interior and adjustable seating. A completely flat floor extends from the front to the rear of the vehicle. And like the other concepts, it has Nissan’s e-4ORCE all-wheel-drive setup and ProPilot driver assistance technologies.

The Surf-Out is undoubtedly the stand-out of the bunch, with a minimalist interior and a rear lighting scheme that is fairly unique. Nissan says the pickup will have off-road capabilities and an outboard generator of some kind.

Nissan has long been a leader in electric vehicle sales, despite really only having one EV — the functional-if-uninspiring Nissan Leaf hatchback — on the market. The company unveiled the Ariya against the backdrop of corporate turmoil, executive turnover, plummeting sales, and pandemic-related cost-cutting at Nissan.