Nissan Motor on Wednesday unveiled the Ariya – an electric SUV and its first all-new worldwide model in five years – hoping it will symbolize its road to recovery following declining sales.
But initial sales strategies for the Ariya are modest, people with information of the matter said, an indication that the vehicle will not do enough to lift Nissan’s bottom line.
Showcasing Nissan’s newest self-driving technologies, the model has a driving range comparable to Tesla models and will sell from around 5 million yen ($47,000). This makes it more upscale compared to the X-Trail SUV, Nissan’s top-selling global model referred to as the Rogue in North America.
“We were under orders from management not to make any compromises with this model as it represents where the company stands today and will lead to the Nissan of the future,” Hikaru Nakajima, Ariya’s chief engineer, informed reporters this week.
The electric vehicle market is dominated by Tesla Inc and amid rising competition from other automakers launching and preparing their own electric SUVs, Nissan plans to sell only 30,000 for the model’s first full year of global sales, two sources said.
“It’s a bit underwhelming,” said one source who was participated in the product’s development, referring to the sales target.
“Is this going to be a vehicle that brings a halo effect to the brand or not?” the source said.
Sales of the Ariya will start in Japan from mid-2021. Sales in the United States, Europe, and China will come afterwards but the automaker has not disclosed a timeline.
A third person said the automaker is preparing to produce 40,000 units in Japan in 2021, ultimately increasing annual production to 100,000. It will also work on the model in China, two people stated.
By comparison, the X-Trail and Rogue together sold over half a million units in the automaker’s major markets last year, while Tesla’s electric Model 3 sedan notched up sales of over 300,000.
The sources were not authorized to discuss with the media and as such they spoke on condition of anonymity. A Nissan spokeswoman refused to talk about sales and production targets.
The Ariya will compete with the Model Y SUV crossover, which Tesla started delivering in March and starts at around $50,000, and also Ford’s Mustang Mach-E SUV which is due out later this year and is also expected to cost around $50,000.
The long-range version of the Ariya would be able to travel up to 610 kilometres on one charge, according to Nissan. That is much longer than the Model Y’s 505 kilometres.