The vehicle was unveiled during an online event Wednesday.
Nissan became one of the first major car companies to offer an all-electric car when it introduced the Leaf in 2010. At the time, Nissan had big plans to make a whole lineup of electric vehicles, which then-CEO Carlos Ghosn predicted would make up 10% of the global car market by 2020.
So far, things haven’t turned out the way. Last year, electric vehicles made up just 2.6% of all cars sold globally, according to the International Energy Agency. Besides a new and improved Leaf, the only other electric vehicle Nissan offers widely is the eNV, a plug-in version of the Nissan NV van, which isn’t sold in the U.S. Nissan executives have said the company will come out with eight new electric vehicles by 2022.
The Ariya crossover SUV will become Nissan’s second electric vehicle available in the US. It’s bigger and roomier than the Leaf, a compact car, and has a design somewhat like Nissan’s Murano SUV. The most noticeable difference is the front “grille” design. Electric cars don’t require nearly as much incoming air as gasoline-powered car, so the front grille is purely a design feature. The Ariya’s grille has a large sunken area with a subtle pattern that’s supposed to resemble a traditional Japanese kumiko design. It also has a slightly redesigned Nissan logo that lights up.
Inside, the Ariya has a particularly roomy interior thanks to the lack of an engine under the hood. Things that usually impinge on interior space, like the air conditioning equipment, are located under the hood instead.
In place of buttons and switches most so-called secondary controls — for things like climate control and the stereo — are handled through “capacitive haptic switches,touch-sensitive icons that light up on the dashboard.
The Ariya’s large flat battery pack is mounted under the SUV’s floor, which allows the vehicle to have a completely flat floor, an arrangement also found in a number of other electric models including the Tesla Model Y.
The Ariya will be available with Nissan’s ProPilot Assist driver assistance technology that allows some hands-free driving on highways in some countries. The hands-free driving technology, which is similar to systems offered by General Motors and, soon, Ford, will be available in the US first on the Ariya, a Nissan spokesman said.
The electric SUV will be available in front- or all-wheel-drive and with a choice of two battery pack sizes. The base model will have a 63 kilowatt-hour battery pack. With the larger 87 kilowatt-hour pack, the Ariya will be able to go about 300 miles on a charge based on US EPA tests, according to Nissan. Nissan did not release a range estimate for the SUV with the smaller battery pack.
The Ariya will be able to go from a stop to 60 miles an hour in about 5 seconds, Nissan chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta said in an online meeting with journalists. That performance is similar to Nissan’s 370Z sports car.