This year has not been kind to automakers as the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause havoc across the globe. Despite these challenges though, some companies such as Tesla and Nikola Corp have seen considerable success in the EV market and now it’s time for the new 2021 Nissan Ariya Electric SUV to shine.
A concept version of the Nissan Ariya was first made public at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show followed by a debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Now, even in the face of Covid-19 and internal issues surrounding former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, the Japanese carmaker’s shares have gained as much as 8.5% since lifting the veil on the 2021 Nissan Ariya Electric SUV.
“All eyes are on this car as a model that holds the key to Nissan’s fortunes. Expectations are high, as to whether this car sells or not will have a big impact on Nissan’s earnings” said Koji Endo, head of equity research at SBI Securities Co. in Tokyo.
Nissan Ariya Electric Modular Platform
While the concept car showed some unique and exotic concepts, including the oversized wheels, the production version will only see a few minor changes. The 2021 Nissan Ariya has a flexible new architecture which will eventually be used for a variety of electric vehicles and not only for Nissan but also its alliance partners, Mitsubishi and Renault.
Staying close to the competition in the form of Tesla, Ford, GM and Volkswagen, the Nissan Ariya’s modular platform houses the batteries, motors and other key components below the load floor. This helps reduce the size of the traditional engine compartment which results in more freedom.
They’ve also moved the climate control (HVAC) system from the instrument panel to the area on the left where an engine would normally go, creating more space for passengers. The modular design allows Nissan to accommodate different possibilities in terms of which new areas of the market they can explore.
2021 Nissan Ariya Electric SUV Specifications
While the new modular platform is essentially front-wheel-drive, there is also an option to order an all-wheel-drive, twin-motor derivative. Nissan developed a brand new electric drive system, e-4ORCE, and is effectively the “spiritual offspring” of the Nissan GT-R sports car. This highlights a massive shift in the way Nissan wants their EV customers to experience BEVs where they no longer have to sacrifice driving pleasure for going green.
The front-wheel-drive system in the Nissan Ariya delivers 160 kW (214 hp) and 221 lb-ft of torque while the twin-motor AWD system ups the ante with an impressive 290 kW (389 hp) and 443 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to the new e-4ORCE system, the Nissan Ariya electric SUV pushes power directly to each wheel and uses torque to assist driver input.
This technology is complemented by the next-generation ProPilot Assist 2.0, Nissan’s semi-autonomous driving system. The original version could help keep the vehicle centred in its lane but drivers were required to keep their hands on the wheel at all times. With the new system, however, Nissan explained that it allows “attentive drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel under certain conditions.”
No specific details have yet been released but early reports suggest it could be similar to the format of GM’s Super Cruise and Ford’s new version of CoPilot 360. Here, it will operate on limited-access roads mapped in high-resolution with a monitoring system that ensures a driver remains alert and ready to take control in an emergency.
Battery Power And Charging
What’s an electric car review without talking about the batteries and charging times? Well, the good news is that Nissan has altered the chemistry of its lithium-ion cells and has managed to cut their cost while increasing energy density. This means more energy storage and power in less space.
The base 2021 Nissan Ariya model can store 63 kilowatt-hours which are within a kWh of the current, longest-range version of the second-generation Nissan Leaf Plus. When it comes to range, according to the EPA, the Nissan Ariya offers an 87 kWh battery that is expected to get about 300 miles per charge.
Nissan officials have not shared any specific details around charging the Ariya except that it can handle up to 137 kilowatts of power. This is a big increase from the approximate 50 kW limit of the Nissan Leaf which suggests the smaller pack can be recharged to 80% in a little more than an hour at a CCS charger.
Exterior And Interior Technology And Features
Unlike the Nissan Leaf that was designed during an era when EVs were expected to look futuristic, the Nissan Ariya is more refined. However, it does have cues that scream BEV such as the absence of a conventional grille along with slit headlamps, each featuring four distinct LED bulbs.
Looking at it side-on shows a crossover with a curvy, coupe-like shape. It has several subtle design changes, including twin rear spoilers, which will maximise range due to advanced aerodynamics. The production model will also apparently feature the big wheels from the concept model making quite a bold statement.
On the Inside, the Nissan Ariya Electric SUV is minimalistic but functional, stylish and modern. It has a floating, horizontal instrument panel with side-by-side video screens, each measuring 12.3 inches. Like working with two computer screens, you can move elements from the infotainment display to the primary display by simply swiping across. There’s no centre tunnel which means the Nissan Ariya has a flat floor making space for five people with relative comfort.
CEO, Makoto Uchida, stated that they want to introduce two electric-vehicles and four e-Power models by the end of 2023. Whether the Nissan Ariya will be the carmaker’s saving grace, only time will tell but it sure looks the part with all the technology and performance to be a real contender.
Considering that electric vehicles are not common in South Africa, it’s unlikely that the Nissan Ariya Electric SUV will come to our shores but one can certainly hope.