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Tokyo show: Nissan says EVs to cost less by 2025

Charge on: The new Leaf is the latest EV from Nissan but there are more on the way, including a production crossover EV.

Nissan says tipping point where EVs cost the same as ICE cars will happen 2025

Nissan logo26 Oct 2017

By TIM NICHOLSON in TOKYO

NISSAN believes the tipping point for electric vehicles becoming mainstream will occur in the middle of next decade as the Japanese car-maker now begins to ramp up its own EV product rollout.

Nissan lifted the lid on its IMx electric crossover concept at the Tokyo motor show this week, previewing a new scalable EV platform that will be used on various upcoming models and offering a driving range of 600km.

The company was first to market with a mass-produced electric vehicle, the Leaf, in 2010, and while it carries the title of world’s best-selling EV – with more than 250,000 units sold as at December 2016 – it remains a niche model by volume.

Asked in Tokyo this week when EVs would become the dominant force in the automotive market, Nissan Motor Company vice-president of global product strategy Ivan Espinosa said there were a number of factors to consider.

“One thing is the regulatory costs of conventional technology today is gradually going up and it will keep getting worse and worse as we go,” he said.

“With that said, at the same time we see a lot of governments pushing to get cleaner environments, cleaner cities, more stringent regulatory hurdles. The electric technology is one of the solutions to do that. One of the things is the cost of the technology is relatively high and it has to do mainly with battery cost.

“As this evolves and as the technology matures – it is in its young age – we can expect the cost to go down. And as the cost goes down and the conventional technology keeps going up, you will start seeing this shift. And we believe the shift will happen quickly.”

Nissan Motor Company chief planning officer Philippe Klein added that the tipping point for EVs to become more affordable and therefore more popular with consumers will take place by around 2025.

“We see this happening somewhere in the middle of the next decade,” he said.

“At the same time the cost that will be imposed on the car industry for the new regulation, which is substantial, it is going to depend on the regions but will be substantial.

“And at the same time (will be) the continuous decrease of the cost of the electric vehicle technology. This decrease, we start to see the benefit of it.” Mr Klein said there are realistic applications for EV technology and relevant markets will adopt the technology at a different pace.

“We are not saying that for all of the usages we are going to see an electric vehicle everywhere, it is not necessarily the best technology for a full-size truck towing a house in the US,” he said.

“But for a lot of vehicles commuting every day, it is going to become an obvious technology, so that is going to trigger the pace of the deployment.

“Of course, it is depending on the usage the customers are doing with the cars, depending on the countries in terms of regulations in place, the fiscal system, the efforts made for infrastructure. So we are going to see a different pace.

“And it is not necessarily a gameplay between mature countries and emerging countries. If you look at most polluted cities, most of them are in emerging countries and this is creating a real problem. I think we are going to see different pace as a function of the environment, but the condition will start to be there in the middle of the next decade.”

Mr Espinosa added that consumer interest in the technology was growing in recent years and this would help facilitate quicker EV take-up.

“The other thing we are noticing changing very fast is customer interest in EVs is growing. It is because people are getting into the technology and experiencing the technology more and more,” he said.

“When we launched the Leaf, we had great feedback from customers buying the car because the drive experience is very different. Because the ‘fun to drive’ (experience) you get with the car is amazing and a completely different experience.

“What we thought some years ago were going to be customers that will not be interested in EVs, starting to change, starting to think, ‘Why not? EV is a good proposition.’ “So you start to see that also changing. Apart from the regulatory environment and technology cost viewpoint, customers are starting to be more and more interested in this technology. It is definitely going to happen and very, very fast.”

Nissan Motor Company executive vice-president for global marketing and sales, zero-emission vehicles and the battery business, Daniele Schillaci, reiterated that EVs would be the same price as internal combustion cars by about 2025, and acknowledged that while government incentives help EV take-up, it is the technology itself that appeals most to consumers.

“Incentives when you have a new technology, it has to accelerate acceptance of the technology,” he said.

“But the most important thing is the technology itself, if the customer connects with the tech. And the EV tech clearly shows that the customer, when they experience an EV, most of them probably won’t buy a traditional engine because once you use this EV experience, I am afraid if you move to a diesel, it won’t be your first choice.

“Hence the importance of repositioning the EV like a product that meets the customer needs and try to make this product affordable. Which is exactly what Nissan is doing with the new Leaf. With new Leaf, if you look at what is happening, we are moving away from the niche, and we are democratising the EV to a wider reach that we have in the mass market and also with affordability.

“And now the result that I can tell you in Japan but also in other areas where we are taking first customer orders, is going exactly in that direction.

“People are just so impressed by the technology. And if you have incentives of course it is better, but if you don’t have, if you connect with the technology at least you will consider that technology.”

The Leaf is being rolled out globally now ahead of an Australian launch late next year, while Mr Klein confirmed that the IMx crossover concept previewed a future production electric SUV.

“You have seen here at the show a crossover EV which is an exploration as I mentioned. You can expect us to come out with a crossover EV in the next few years,” he said.

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