The new electric crossover model to be built at Nissan's Sunderland factory will be the replacement for the Leaf, the firm’s Europe boss, Guillaume Cartier, has confirmed.
Plans to build a new crossover in Sunderland as part of a huge £1 billion investment in the plant to secure its future were announced back in July. That model was expected to be the Leaf’s replacement, something confirmed today by Cartier.
The Leaf replacement will therefore switch from a hatchback to a crossover bodystyle – and be based on the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s CMF-EV platform – in around 2025.
By then, Nissan’s core future model line-up will include five models, all of them electrified crossovers: the Juke, Qashqai, Ariya and X-Trail, plus the Leaf replacement.
The Japanese car maker will therefore not solely develop any more conventional models in Europe, such as saloons, hatchbacks and estates. However, it will turn to its Alliance partners, Mitsubishi and Renault, to source underpinnings for other segments, chiefly a small car to replace the Micra.
“We will look to the Alliance for a full line-up and powertrains,” said Cartier. “One topic that is still open is the entry [the Micra-sized replacement]. Key point is how we offer something from the Alliance with the Nissan brand.” He added that making it profitaby was the main issue, and that the car “absolutely” would be an EV.
The focus on electrification means that Nissan will not invest in internal combustion engine technology to make it EU7 emissions compliant, regulations due to come in Europe in the middle of the decade.
“Strategically, we bet on electrification,” said Cartier. “If we invest in EU7, the ballpark cost is about half the profit margin per car, around €2000 you would have to pass onto the customer. So we bet on EV, knowing it will decrease in cost.”