When it comes to sports cars wearing a Nissan badge, the GT-R reigns king. Despite only one generation actually reaching U.S. shores from the factory, the venerable platform proved to be one of the most successful performance car programs in history, sporting some of the most well-known motors to have ever graced an engine bay. But in the age of electrification, Nissan is looking towards a natural successor powered, at least in part, by batteries.
Hiroshi Tamura has been dancing with the GT-R since he was 18 years old, so for him to eventually become head of the product line (and eventually retire) was natural. However, even Tamura was unsure of how the Nissan GT-R and Z would eventually end up in the face of electrification when faced with the question earlier this year. But one thing is now apparent: Nissan will be launching an electrified version of a sports car in the future.
“[There] is a very, very important vision [in Europe] for Nissan. It’s around the heart of this [new car],” said Nismo CEO Takao Katagiri in an interview with Autocar. “This region [the U.K.] is very, very special for us, especially [for] performance cars. So one thing I can say is please wait. We are going to introduce a very exciting model to the U.K. market under the Nismo brand.”
Now, while Katagiri's comments were specifically about the U.K., he also let slip that Nissan plans to first launch the vehicle in Japan. Afterward, the automaker will put the model on sale in both Europe and the U.S.
It's unclear how exactly Nissan plans to strategize the launch of its new sports car, but based on Katagiri's use of the singular word "model," it would appear that Nissan may have plans for a single performance-oriented vehicle at this time. Historically, Nissan has broken out its performance vehicles across two models built on two different underpinning architectures. The Z, for example, is built on Nissan's Front Midship (FM) platform, whereas the GT-R is built on a sports-enhanced version of the FM platform known as Premium Midship (PM). Whether or not the standalone vehicle will even sport the GT-R or Z badge is unknown.
One thing is apparent, however: Nissan is planning to launch the vehicle with a combination of powertrains. Katagiri confirmed to Autocar that Nissan planned to launch a "combination" of hybrid and EV models of its new sports car, though it's hazy as to whether or not Nissan will launch both at the same time, or if it will need time to grow its battery tech into a full BEV-sports-car-ready powertrain.
Nissan also hasn't portrayed a thorough timeline of when it plans to launch the vehicle, though previously ushered clues from other company executives point towards the top of the decade. The most damning evidence comes from Nissan's push for any of its performance EVs to utilize solid-state batteries, which are still nearly 10 years away from market, according to Richard Moore, the former auto exec in charge of strategizing the creation of the Nissan-backed West Midlands Gigafactory. The automaker has previously said that it aims to launch its first EV with solid-state batteries in 2028. However, that doesn't mean that Nissan's EV sports car will launch at the same time. François Bailly, Nissan's Chief Planning Officer for Africa, the Middle East, India, and Europe, has said that while he would love an EV-based sports car, more mainstream models would come first.
Nissan did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter directly.
Now, the biggest foreseeable problem is whether or not the automaker can get its vehicle to market quickly enough to be competitive. Manufacturers across the globe are accelerating their respective EV programs to ensure a rapid transition to battery power. Sports cars, however, are still a niche market compared to money-making crossovers.
Nissan appears to be playing the long game in the name of solid-state batteries, which, admittedly, have their advantages. If Nissan can pull off executing this feat correctly, it could prove to offer a significant advantage for consumers looking for a quick-charging sports car. But for how long? Regardless, the GT-R nameplate has a rich heritage of being the best at what it does—it's Godzilla, for heaven's sake. To watch a proper battery-powered successor rise from the ashes of the current model will undoubtedly be a spectacle to see.
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