Electrification is auto industry’s latest favorite buzzword and a number of companies have recently announced plans to offer an assortment of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles.
A number of these models will be sold alongside conventionally-powered counterparts but Nissan is taking a gamble as it has announced plans to make one of its mainstream models available exclusively with an electric powertrain. There’s no word on which model will make the switch but Nissan North America’s vice president of product planning, Michael Bunce, recently told Car and Driver the vehicle will arrive sometime between 2023 and 2025.Bunce was coy on specifics but said "At some point you have to say: ‘Okay, my technology’s mature enough, I’ve learned enough, it’s ready enough, consumer acceptance is there,’ and we’re willing to take the risk on some major nameplates and transition them over.” While the company is obviously optimistic, it remains to be seen whether customers will be willing to accept a mainstream vehicle that is now available exclusively with an electric powertrain.The switch won’t happen overnight but Nissan should get an idea how consumers respond to electrification as the company is planning to bring its ePower range-extending technology to America.The system mimics models such as the Chevrolet Volt and BMW i3 REx as it uses a small engine which acts as a generator. When the battery becomes low, the engine activates to recharge it and extend the vehicle’s range. This gives the vehicle all of the benefits of a conventionally-powered model while also increasing its performance and efficiency thanks to electric power.Automotive News spoke to Nissan’s chief planning officer who suggested the technology could be offered on some on the company’s higher-end models as they can better absorb the costs associated with the powertrain. There’s no word on specifics but possible choices include the Maxima, Murano, and Pathfinder as they all have starting prices in excess of $30,000.