EV growth prompts Nissan to spend $250 million on U.S. engine plant

The 2030 vision of deriving 40 percent of Nissan’s U.S. sales from electric vehicles represents a big jump from where the company is today. In the fiscal year ended March 31, 2022, just 1.4 percent of Nissan’s North American volume came from pure EVs.

Nissan offers only two EVs in the U.S. — the Leaf, which sold 12,025 units in calendar year 2022, and the newly launched Ariya crossover, which had sold just 201 units by year end.

Globally, only 13 percent of Nissan’s sales were electrified, including hybrids. The company sold 477,000 hybrids and EVs in the fiscal year through March 31, 2022.

Looking ahead, Uchida said Nissan’s electrification plans will get a turbo boost with the advent of all solid-state batteries. Nissan is developing the technology in-house with the goal of mass producing the next-generation batteries in 2028. Because they are safer, lighter, more energy dense and faster-charging than today’s lithium ion batteries, they will enable electrification of a wider array of vehicle types, he said. That could spur volume sales in segments such as EV pickups and EV sports cars.

“That is our tipping point,” Uchida said. “We want to make that a core strength of Nissan.”

In addressing ongoing talks about Nissan’s possible investment in an EV-oriented spinoff from French partner Renault, the Nissan boss said the critical question facing his Japanese carmaker is how such a restructured operation can jump-start the EV operations of both automakers.

Renault and Nissan, he said, each see value in breaking with hidebound business practices as the global EV race heats up with a flood of new entrants from Silicon Valley, China and beyond. New competitors, he said, have new business paradigms that require rethinking by legacy players.

“The world is evolving,” Uchida said. “If we don’t get out of our comfort zone, we will be left behind.”

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