Plans for Electrified Nissan Z, GT-R Are Still Very Murky
It seems like a question of both preference and ability when it comes to Nissan electrifying its enthusiast cars.
If you've been expecting an electric Nissan Z car or a hybrid GT-R, it's probably best to hold your horses. Nissan doesn't seem so sure about what it wants when it comes to the future of its enthusiast vehicles. The just-retired chief engineer for Nissan's current generation of sports cars, Hiroshi Tamura, isn't ready to make any solid predictions. Likewise, examining where Nissan is in its shift towards an electrified lineup provides background to contextualize what the engineer's words might mean for the average enthusiast in the near future.
Tamura has just aged out of his engineering job. He's now a brand ambassador for Nissan. He obviously has an up-close and personal view of the inner workings of the company after spending decades there. The way he speaks of the development of potential new electrified sports cars is eye-opening: "It’s easy to talk about an [electric or hybrid] solution. But the most important thing is emotion, and how to create performance cars with appropriate price points. We have to keep an appropriate price," he said, according to drive.com.au. "For me, it’s how you can create the dance partner [and meet] customer expectations."
Tamura speaks mostly of constraints. Price, driving dynamics, and the sound of an EV are all things he's worried about. "How do you make sound with an electric car? You make noise with a speaker. But the stereotype of … old guys sometimes don’t like fake sound. That’s the challenge." The engineer describes these things, perhaps appropriately, as points he hasn't considered. Perhaps they have not yet officially been considered by Nissan. It's possible Tamura, in his last days in his engineering role, had little to do with the work on the future of Nissan's sports cars. The level of development that's been done on the future of the brand's enthusiast products as a whole is unknown.
What he says speaks volumes if you read into it a little, though. He did note that the decision to stick with ICE or go electric will be "very difficult," and also hinted it hasn't happened yet. He said that decision will occur sometime "in the future."
It's important to examine the context of this situation. Nissan currently offers one electric vehicle for sale, the Leaf, which is rumored to be on the chopping block. The electric Ariya crossover, a vital new offering for Nissan, has seen countless delays in its introduction to the market. The Japanese automaker has some hybrid vehicles, but the sort of technology to produce sporty hybrid cars doesn't really exist in Nissan's parts bin as it does in that of other automakers, like GM. When Tamura says it's "easy to talk" about electrified or fully-electric performance cars, this could be what he's referencing. People ask about the company's plans to electrify its sports cars and, meanwhile, it can barely electrify much of its regular lineup.
That's not to say it isn't making an effort. Automakers are typically shady about future product plans. Looking at the context, though, it's probably best that we start thinking about the possibility of electric sporty Nissans in more drawn-out timelines. They could be on the way, but they're also probably one of the last things on the Japanese automaker's to-do list.
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