Last week, Japanese carmaker Nissan announced that it planned to convert its best-selling fossil fuel crossover models in the United Kingdom — the Juke and Qashqai — into electric cars. Sources with knowledge of the matter say Nissan plans to invest around $1.4 billion into the electrification project.
Nissan has reportedly had talks with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as well as Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, and the project may receive significant government funding. The carmaker would manufacture the electrified crossover models at the Sunderland, UK plant where it currently builds the soon-to-be discontinued Nissan Leaf.
With Nissan planning to halt production of the Leaf to focus on the Nissan Ariya, the decision to manufacture electrified crossovers at the Sunderland plant will save around 6,000 jobs at the facility. The Nissan Qashqai was the first British-built vehicle to achieve best-selling status since 1998, becoming the best-selling car in the UK last year at 42,724 units sold, even outselling the Tesla Model Y (35,551 units sold).
The Japanese automaker is one of many major automakers that have committed to electrifying their vehicle lineups as part of global efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions from transportation and curb climate change. Company CEO Mokoto Uchida announced in September that the company was committed to becoming all-electric in Europe by the end of the decade.
But unlike other major automakers, Nissan was among the first entrants into the nascent EV segment. The automaker launched the Nissan Leaf, the first mass-produced electric car on the globe, in 2010, and the Leaf was the world’s best-selling electric car in its first four years. After more t han a decade of admirable performance, Nissan announced that it will spend the next few years phasing out the Leaf and replacing it with a new electric car by 2026.
Nissan is also one of the first legacy carmakers to pledge a 100% transition to electric cars. Uchida said that more than a million consumers have already joined Nissan on its electrification journey, and he noted that adopting electric cars that rely on renewable energy will be key to Nissan achieving carbon neutrality.
The Ariya Crossover/SUV represented Nissan’s first attempts at ramping up electric vehicle production. Infiniti, Toyota’s luxury vehicle subsidiary, will also begin producing a new crossover electric car as well as a new EV sedan at its Canton, Mississippi factory. Toyota plans to only produce electric vehicles in Europe from now on as part of its plans to be 100% electric on the continent by 2030.
With the EV market already featuring different models from dozens of manufacturers such as Cenntro Electric Group Ltd. (NASDAQ: CENN), the crossovers that Nissan plans to turn into electric vehicles will face stiff competition to establish themselves on the market.
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