Nissan flips the switch on electric reboot in China

FILE PHOTO: Nissan Kicks e-Power vehicles are seen during the media day of the 41st Bangkok International Motor Show after the Thai government eased measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Bangkok, Thailand July 14, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva/File Photo

(Reuters) – Nissan Motor is accelerating the rollout of electric vehicles in China under its main brand and its local, no-frills Venucia marque as it overhauls its strategy in the world’s biggest auto market, four sources told Reuters.

Besides the focus on green vehicles, the plan involves using more locally made parts and technologies to reduce costs and help the struggling Japanese carmaker compete better with lower-cost Chinese firms and major global rivals, the sources said.

The China strategy is a key pillar of Nissan’s turnaround, which involves focusing on producing profitable cars for China, Japan and the United States, rather than chasing all-out global growth as it did under disgraced former boss Carlos Ghosn.

“Before we were saying global, global, global, and China was just part of that strategy,” one of the four people familiar with the plans told Reuters.

“With regionalisation now replacing globalisation, we have to improve the cost competitiveness of all the components and technologies that go into a car by going totally local,” he said.

Both the Nissan board and the board of its China joint venture Dongfeng Motor Company have backed the plan and some elements of the new strategy will be unveiled at the Shanghai auto show in April, the sources said.

Nissan plans to launch three cars in China this year: the new all-electric Ariya crossover, a significant redesign of its X-Trail sport utility vehicle (SUV) and a hybrid Sylphy compact car using its e-Power technology, the sources said.

At least one new Nissan car will hit the Chinese market each year through 2025, with most either fully electric or hybrids equipped with autonomous and smart driving technology, the sources said. One is likely to be an e-Power X-Trail.

Two of the sources said the plan also involves turning Venucia more into a brand for affordable electric vehicles (EVs), though details are still being worked out. The idea is to price new Venucia EVs well below its current cheapest EV – the e30 mini car – which starts at 61,800 yuan ($9,540).

All four sources work for Nissan and spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to speak to reporters.

Nissan declined to comment on its future product strategy.

“China is a core market for Nissan and Nissan is getting prepared to launch a slew of technologies including e-Power technology to fulfil customers’ aspirations,” a Nissan spokesman said. He also confirmed the Ariya would be launched in 2021.