The mysterious crossover SUV at the helm of Nissan’s multi-billion dollar investment into British-built electric cars will be badged Leaf.
Nissan will reportedly transform its long-running electric Leaf hatchback into a small SUV that will be launched globally around 2025.
The completely redesigned Leaf will share the modular CMF-EV electric vehicle platform with the forthcoming Ariya midsize electric SUV.
Guillaume Cartier, the chairperson of Nissan Europe, told Autocar the Leaf would continue to be built at its Sutherland factory in the UK that is being expanded beyond its current Qashqai production line as part of a $1.8 billion investment in electric vehicles.
Mr Carter also chairs the Nissan brand in Africa, the Middle East, India and Oceania which falls under the aptly named AMIEO region in the global brand.
With the Leaf morphed into the more popular SUV body style, the Micra (which is not sold in Australia) will become the sole non-SUV option offered by Nissan in Europe, though in Australia the line-up is more diverse with the Navara ute and incoming Z coupe also offered.
While the dimensions and pricing of the new Leaf SUV are still unknown, it is likely that the model will sit between today’s Juke and Qashqai petrol-powered crossovers at the smaller end of the lineup, while the larger Ariya will offer an electric alternative to the X-Trail.
Mr Cartier said strict new Euro 7 emissions standards have forced the company to expand its electric agenda.
“If we invest in EU7, the ballpark cost is about half the profit margin per car, around €2000 (AUD$3,146) you would have to pass onto the customer. So we bet on EV, knowing it will decrease in cost,” he said.
Nissan Europe plans to offer all of its models with either an e-Power hybrid system or full electrification by 2025 and by 2030 it expects EVs to make up 80 per cent of its sales.
Nissan teased the then unnamed Leaf in July this year and showed off images of the small SUV with a slick coupe-like rear end, huge wheels and more aggressive styling than the aforementioned Ariya.
The first-generation Nissan Leaf made its debut in 2010 before going on sale in Australia in June 2012 becoming arguably the first reasonably priced fully electric car available locally with a driveaway price of $46,990.
Since then, the Leaf debuted a second generation in 2017 which continued to push the boundaries of what an electric car could do but is now being outperformed, and out sold, by newer rivals such as the Tesla Model 3.
The Leaf’s move to the CMF-EV platform, shared under the Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance, promises increased levels of performance and range capabilities, with the closely related Ariya claiming up to 610km in a single charge.
The dedicated electric platform will also bring packaging benefits that will likely create more interior space when compared to Nissan’s current petrol-powered SUVs but few hard facts are known about this new SUV.
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