Nissan was an EV pioneer with the LEAF, then became an EV laggard as the LEAF was superseded by more advanced models from Tesla, GM and others. Will the Japanese automaker regain relevance with the release of the upcoming Ariya?
Nissan has now released some photos and specs for the new model, which it calls an SUV. The Ariya will be offered in standard and extended range variants. The former will have a 65 kWh battery pack (63 kWh usable), and the latter will sport a 90 kWh pack (87 kWh usable). Nissan says the extended range model will have a range of about 300 miles, but hasn’t yet offered a range estimate for the standard range version.
The standard range variant uses front-wheel drive, and will deliver 215 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque. The extended range version features Nissan’s e-4ORCE all-wheel drive system, and will crank out 389 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. Nissan says it will do 0-60 mph in about 5.0 seconds.
The prismatic NMC battery cells will be sourced from CATL. The Ariya’s battery pack has an active thermal management system with liquid cooling. That’s a welcome upgrade from the LEAF, which relied on air cooling, and has had some well-publicized problems with battery life.
Another important change: Nissan has dropped the CHAdeMO DC fast charging standard, and implemented CCS for the Ariya. The new Nissan will offer a 7.2 kW charging rate on Level 2 AC, and a 130 kW rate on DC.
Nissan’s ProPilot driver-assist system will be standard, and ProPilot Assist 2.0, which offers “hands-off, single-lane highway driving,” will be optional.
Now for the most important question: is the Ariya truly an SUV? Well, it’s a lot beefier-looking than the LEAF, and it’s about equivalent in size to the Rogue. A self-respecting SUV must have towing capacity, and the Ariya has it—up to 1,500 pounds.
Nissan has not said whether women will be able to handle charging the Ariya. In 2020, a Nissan exec said the company would shift away from EVs, partly because charging was “a hassle,” and implied that lifting a heavy cable was too difficult for female drivers. Presumably another innovation introduced with the Ariya will be a lighter cable, perhaps colored pink.
Nissan says the Ariya will be launched in the US in late 2021, with a starting price of about $40,000.