Battery-powered family SUV turns over a new leaf for Japanese electric vehicle pioneers, bringing green motoring on a budget.
Battery-powered family SUV turns over a new leaf for Japanese electric vehicle pioneers, bringing green motoring on a budget.

New Nissan SUV takes on Tesla

Nissan is working to be the first mainstream manufacturer to offer an affordable family-sized electric SUV in Australia.

The Japanese brand unveiled its production-ready Ariya electric car this week, promising to compete with the likes of Tesla, Mercedes and Audi for a much cheaper price.

Nissan’s Ariya electric SUV costs half as much as a similar-sized electric Mercedes in Japan.
Nissan’s Ariya electric SUV costs half as much as a similar-sized electric Mercedes in Japan.

Larger than Hyundai's similarly priced compact Kona Electric, the Ariya is similar in size to Nissan's X-Trail. Initial customers in Japan choose between two-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive traction.

There are four power levels ranging from 160kW and 300Nm to 290kW and 600Nm, along with 65kWh or 90kWh battery packs.

The fastest version reaches 100km/h in 5.1 seconds, matching Mercedes' claim for its EQC electric SUV.

The Ariya introduces Nissan’s new electric all-wheel-drive system.
The Ariya introduces Nissan’s new electric all-wheel-drive system.

Nissan says the big-battery Ariya's maximum range exceeds 600 kilometres when measured according to Japanese standards, though that number is likely to sit closer to the 450km mark in the real world.

On sale in Japan in mid-2021, the electric SUV is expected to cost about 5 million yen ($67,000), less than half the price of the Mercedes-Benz EQC electric car, which starts at about $145,000 drive-away in Australia.

A high-resolution head-up display joins curved screens in the cockpit.
A high-resolution head-up display joins curved screens in the cockpit.

Nissan spokeswoman Karla Leach said the manufacturer hoped to introduce the Ariya locally, but that an Australian debut had not been confirmed.

As with the Nissan Leaf hatchback, the new model features "vehicle to grid" electrical hardware capable of keeping a home's lights on during a blackout, or pumping excess energy into the grid to earn money or energy credits during periods of peak demand.

Unlike the Leaf, the Ariya looks striking both inside and out.

Diffuse ambient lighting is inspired by paper lanterns.
Diffuse ambient lighting is inspired by paper lanterns.

Beautifully presented interior elements lean on traditional Japanese design values, such as soft diffuse lighting inspired by paper lanterns. Backlit controls glow through wood veneers that pulse with haptic feedback when prodded, and the car's displays are designed not to overwhelm drivers with too much information.

Amazon's Alexa digital assistant lives within its central infotainment display, giving Nissan an alternative to the voice-activated features found in European luxury models.

The Ariya’s climate controls shine through wood veneers.
The Ariya’s climate controls shine through wood veneers.

The machine will be the first Nissan with electric torque vectoring developed from lessons learned building performance cars such as the GT-R coupe. Safety tech includes Nissan's latest ProPilot suite of driver aids, along with front and rear autonomous emergency braking, a 360 degree camera and much more.

Nissan expects to sell more than one million electric and "e-power" hybrid vehicles per year by the end of 2023.

Nissan is on the cusp of a product onslaught, with several new models on the way.
Nissan is on the cusp of a product onslaught, with several new models on the way.

Chief executive, Makoto Uchida, said the Ariya represented an important step on the road to autonomous and electric cars.

"The Nissan Ariya opens a new chapter in our history as we begin our journey of transformation in our business, in our products, and in our culture," he said.

"It defines what matters to Nissan, represents what we stand for, and embodies the essence of who we are: a passionate, innovative challenger."

Copper highlights in the cabin are a nod to the car's electric power.
Copper highlights in the cabin are a nod to the car's electric power.

Originally published as New Nissan SUV takes on Tesla



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