Why the Ariya could be Nissan's saving grace in a time of considerable uncertainty

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The Ariya is Nissan's new all-electric crossover.

• This new vehicle has an electric range of up to 610km.

• Nissan SA studying the viability of the Ariya for local introduction.

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2020 may be a challenging year for many automakers, including Nissan. The Japanese automaker is facing great challenges, ranging from finances to a former boss who is on the escape in Lebanon. Through it all, Nissan has felt the implications of everything around them, especially from a financial perspective, and is it desperately trying to make the best of a difficult situation; including surviving Covid-19 like many other automakers.

Part of those attempts will be an influx of new vehicles for the global market, with some considered for South Africa. Kicking it off is an all-new all-electric crossover that is sure to garner widespread interest in both Nissan and its plans for the future. The Ariya is that crossover and has been revealed to the world today (15 July).

Will it come to SA? Nissan SA says: "We are studying the introduction of Ariya to various markets. Timing will be confirmed in due course, but it is firmly under study for our market."

Nissan Ariyah

2021 Nissan Ariya (MotorPress)

Source of power

During the presentation, the Nissan team mentioned that the Ariya would be available in four configurations. Regarding the drive: Power can be sent to either the front wheels or all four via an all-wheel-drive system similar to the one used on the GT-R. In the Ariya, this system is called e-4ORCE.

The battery is available in two capacities: 63kWh and 87kWh, both options can be mated to either drive option. However, power outputs differ depending on the model.

READ: Does Nissan have anything to lose by adding hybrid tech to its next Navara bakkie?

On the 2WD model, the batteries produce 160kW/300Nm and 178kW/300Nm, respectively, depending on which capacity you choose. On the 4WD Ariya the same applies, with power rated at 250kW/560Nm and 290kW/600Nm. The top-of-the-range Ariya AWD 87kWh can go from 0-100km/h in 5.1 seconds and onto a 200km/h top speed.

An estimated range of 610km is rated on the Ariya 2WD 87kWh. Nissan also says that a depleted battery can generate up 375km range in 30min using a high-power charger.

Nissan Ariyah

2021 Nissan Ariya (Nissan Media)

Features and more

The Ariya also boasts with Nissan's new ProPILOT 2.0 driver assistance system, as well as the automaker's Safety Shield system. The features in the latter system include Around View Monitor, Forward Collision Warning, Emergency Braking, and Rear Automatic Emergency Braking.

The interior also features a new interface that can be voice-controlled. The software, says Nissan, can be updated over-the-air. Amazon's Alexa is also part of the experience.

While embracing futures technologies and having a futuristic cabin and design, the Ariya is said to have 1) a low centre of gravity for improved on-road dynamics, and 2) a sizeable boot for practical reasons.

Chief Operating Officer, Ashwani Gupta, says: "The Ariya enhances driving excitement, ensures high levels of comfort and confidence and heightens the joy of connecting. It's more than just a great EV crossover; it's a great vehicle. It's a true force of wonder, and it's coming soon."

Nissan Ariyah

2021 Nissan Ariya (Nissan Media)

The importance of the Ariya

Nissan is no stranger to electric mobility. Its Leaf has been one of the leading electric cars in the world for the last decade. So impressive was the Leaf that it won the 2011 World Car of the Year award. Nissan knows their story and will be tapping into that expertise with the Ariya.

But why is the Ariya so crucial for the Japanese automaker? The answer is simple: electrification and SUVs/crossovers.

Buying trends the world over are leaning towards SUVs and crossovers, and pressure from the European Union is pushing automakers to produce vehicles with zero emissions. Hello, electric mobility. Like many other automakers, Nissan is exploring the electric SUV route. But where it has always got one up over its competitors, is with the price.

WATCH: How Carlos Ghosn, the motor industry's enigma, fled out of Japan in a box

The Ariya will retail for 5-million Yen, which translates to an estimated R777 095, before taxes and other additional costs are added. Going on the premise of this unaltered price of just under R780 000, it puts the electric Ariya up against (base, internal combustion engined models) the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GLB (R785 760), Jaguar E-Pace (R748 276), and Volvo XC60 (R731 200). And this for an electric SUV that addresses the requirements for the future.

Do keep in mind, though, that these rival automakers are also preparing all-electric crossovers that would likely be more realistic rivals to the Ariya.

But for Nissan, this crossover is the transition from an immediate troubled past to a new beginning that welcomes the future with open arms. It would seem that for Nissan a new day has come.

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