While Nissan is preparing to launch the next-generation Leaf in the foreseeable future, the carmaker also has another electric vehicle platform in the works.
Nissan senior vice president Shiro Nakamura told Auto Express that the Japanese automaker has a new platform in the works that could expand its electric vehicle to include new crossover and sports car models.
“We don’t want to limit our EVs just to the Leaf,” Nakamura 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.”
While the second-generation Leaf may roll out in the 2017 or 2018 model years, the new platform electric vehicle will take a bit longer. It will be “maybe five years” before we’re likely to see the first production model roll out, Nakamura said. Nissan is likely to preview a concept car at auto shows prior to that launch, he said.
Nissan has been showing off concept cars in recent years that could lead to the new electric car platform. Nissan revealed the Esflow electric sports car concept at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show (pictured above). The rear-wheel-drive car would be able to produce a modest 107 brake horsepower, but could go from 0-62 mph in five seconds.
The Nissan Gripz Hybrid concept, shown off at the Tokyo Motor Show in October, may illustrate the next stage for the carmaker’s sporty crossover lineup. It appeared to be a larger version of the Nissan Juke, which Nissan calls a “sport cross.” Nissan does expect to see “tremendous opportunity” for growth in the crossover market, CEO Carlos Ghosn said at the show.
Nissan also revealed the IDS Concept at last year’s Tokyo Motor Show. It would be a 60-kilowatt-hour battery powering a sensor-laden autonomous car. The body style also suggested that the IDS Concept could be the next-generation Leaf.
The modular design and layout of the new electric concept car will need to be different than the Leaf, Nakamura said. The Leaf’s battery pack is housed under the floor for good weight distribution; but it does raise the floor level, which wouldn’t work for an electric sports car. “For a crossover, we don’t care about floor height because the model already has a high ground clearance, [but] a sports car you have to make as low as possible,” Nakamura said.
Nissan engineers have been researching possible battery placements that would work better for the new electric vehicle. That would include placing batteries under the rear seats or down the transmission tunnel to minimize the amount the floor would need to be raised. The design team is also looking at ways the new modular platform could reduce the cost of EV technology.