Nissan shifts gears on electrification

By Dominic Ellis
Nissan aims to develop 23 new models by 2030 but will battery and infrastructure developments keep pace?

Nissan is accelerating its electrification strategy after yesterday's announcement that it will develop 23 new models by 2030 - and the investment underlines its commitment to achieving carbon neutrality targets by 2050, which it affirmed at the start of the year.

At the core of Nissan EV Technology Vision is the integration of all solid-state battery (ASSB) technology that integrates with optimised components into a skateboard-like structure that allows for a variety of vehicle types. This is why it remains confident it can meet its Ambition 2030 targets and every new Nissan vehicle offering in key markets will be electrified by the next decade.

The concept cars on show yesterday - Chill-Out, Max-Out, Surf-Out and Hang-Out - are a mix of style and functionality. The interior of the Chill-Out suggests the future of driving might be more akin to a home theatre, with a panoramic digital screen and not a steering wheel, gearbox or indicator in sight. It's clear autonomous technology is now firmly in the driving seat.

But will the revolution in driving - both in terms of manufacturing and consumer experience - happen in nine years? It's clear after COP26 that the industry must accelerate its electrification efforts.

Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida said it will drive the new age of electrification, advance technologies to reduce carbon footprint and pursue new business opportunities and aims to transform Nissan into a sustainable company "that is truly needed by customers and society".

The car manufacturer will invest 2 trillion yen over the next five years and it's a major boost for its Sunderland plant, which in the build up to Brexit, and aftermath, has faced repeated questions over its future. Sunderland produces the Nissan Qashqai as well as the Leaf, whose sales have eclipsed 500,000 globally.

With the introduction of 20 new EV and e-POWER equipped models in the next five years, Nissan intends to increase its electrification sales mix across major markets by fiscal year 2026, including Europe (by more than 75% of sales), Japan (55%), China (40%) and the US (40% by 2030). The EU is targeting 75% EV sales by 2030.

Increasing innovation in mobility

Battery efficiency will continue to come under scrutiny. Nissan will continue to evolve its lithium-ion battery technologies and introduce cobalt-free technology to bring down the cost by 65% by fiscal year 2028.

Nissan aims to launch EVs with its proprietary all-solid-state batteries (ASSB) by this year, and operate a pilot plant in Yokohama early 2024. 

By reducing charging time to one-third, ASSBs will make EVs more efficient and accessible. Further, Nissan expects ASSB to bring the cost of battery packs down to $75 per kWh by fiscal year 2028 and aims to bring it further down to $65 per kWh to achieve cost parity between EV and gasoline vehicles in the future.

Nissan seeks to establish a global battery supply system to meet growing customer vehicle demand and support the growing number of EVs in use. Working with its partners, Nissan intends to increase its global battery production capacity to 52 GWh by fiscal year 2026, and 130 GWh by fiscal year 2030.

It aims to expand ProPILOT technology to over 2.5 million Nissan and INFINITI vehicles by fiscal year 2026. The company will also further develop its autonomous vehicle technologies, aiming to incorporate next generation LIDAR systems on virtually every new model by fiscal year 2030.

To meet the varying transportation needs of different countries, Nissan will collaborate with the most suitable partners to realize new mobility services for more efficient mobility in cities, as well as more sustainable mobility in rural areas.

Global ecosystem for mobility 

In addition to technology upgrade, Nissan will localise manufacturing and sourcing to make EVs more competitive. Nissan will expand its unique EV Hub concept, EV36Zero, which was launched in the UK to core markets including Japan, China and the U.S. EV36Zero is a fully integrated manufacturing and service ecosystem connecting mobility and energy management with the aim of realizing carbon neutrality.

Ensuring vehicle batteries remain sustainable will also continue to be a priority for Nissan based on its decade of repurposing and recycling expertise with 4R Energy. The company intends to expand its battery refurbishing facilities beyond Japan with new locations in Europe during fiscal year 2022, and in the US in fiscal year 2025. Nissan’s refurbishing infrastructure will support a circular economy in energy management, and the company aims to fully commercialise its vehicle-to-everything and home battery systems in the mid-2020s, and invest up to 20 billion yen by 2026 towards charging infrastructure.

Dovetailing with the electric announcement is the Nissan Green Program which aims to minimise the carbon footprint of its products and operations. Nissan also continues to work with industry coalitions and authorities to develop infrastructure and raise public awareness about the benefits of electric vehicles.

Europe to drive EV market

Electrification will play an important role in the transformation of the mobility industry and presents major opportunities in all vehicle segments, although the pace and extent of change will differ, notes McKinsey.

"To ensure the fast, widespread adoption of electric mobility, launching new EVs in the market is an important first step. In addition, the entire mobility ecosystem must work to make the transformation successful, from EV manufacturers and suppliers to financers, dealers, energy providers, and charging station operators - to name only a few," it states.

McKinsey believes Europe, as a regulatory-driven market with positive consumer demand trends, will electrify the fastest and is expected to remain the global leader in electrification in terms of EV market share. 

Infrastructure is another key part of the jigsaw. With more than 70 million EVs on the road by 2030, the industry will need to install large numbers of public chargers and provide maintenance operations for them.

Renewable electricity production needs to increase by 5% to meet EV charging demand and crucially, emissions from BEV production must decline, since BEVs currently have 80% higher emissions in production than ICE vehicles.

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