Nissan plans to spend nearly $18 billion to win the EV race


An image of Nissan's three concept cars including its Nissan Max sports car concept; Nissan Surf truck concept; and Nissan Chillout crossover SUV
Nissan's EV concept cars. Image Credit: Nissan

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. is pumping the equivalent of nearly $18 billion into research and development of electric vehicles in a bid to win first place in the global EV market.

The company will roll out 23 new electric vehicles, including 15 new EVs by 2030 in an effort to electrify more than half of its vehicles by 2030.


It's all part of a long term vision the company unveiled for the vehicles of the future -- including a commitment to be carbon neutral across its products by 2050.


Nissan was once the standard bearer for vehicle electrification alongside Tesla, but as more automakers push electric vehicles onto roadways, the competitive landscape has become increasingly crowded for the world's largest automaker.


Now Nissan is hoping to charge forward with a new slate of electric vehicles and a portfolio of mobility technology from its $1 billion startup investment fund.


Since 2018, Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi has invested in several technology companies focused on innovations for mobility. They include the Chinese autonomous vehicle technology developer, WeRide; electric charging retailer, The Mobility House; and the battery technology developer Ionic Materials.


Nissan said that 75% of the cars it sells in Europe will be fully electric or hybrid models within the next five years. Over half of the cars the company sells in Japan will be electrified and 40% of its cars in China will have an electric power train. Meanwhile, the company expects the U.S. to reach that milestone by 2030.


“We are proud of our long track record of innovation, and of our role in delivering the EV revolution. With our new ambition, we continue to take the lead in accelerating the natural shift to EVs by creating customer pull through an attractive proposition by driving excitement, enabling adoption and creating a cleaner world,” said Nissan COO Ashwani Gupta, in a statement.


The company also unveiled four new concept cars to highlight its electric future.


The Surf-Out

An image of Nissan's concept Surf-Out truck in burnt orange on a desert landscape. The truck includes the company's hard top attachment on the rear bed.
Nissan's concept Surf-Out truck with hard-top attachment

Looking like a more rounded version of Tesla's Cybertruck, the Surf-Out concept car would feature off-road capabilities, an ability to provide backup power from the truck, extended cargo space and the company's all wheel drive technology.


The Hang-Out


Interior of Nissan's Hang-Out concept car with its modular, flexible seating system.  Image Credit: Nissan
Interior of Nissan's Hang-Out concept car with its modular, flexible seating system. Image Credit: Nissan

Nissan's conceptual answer to the small SUV, the Hang-Out concept features flexible seating configurations and a flat floor that should provide more headroom and interior space. It could be a competitor to Volkswagen's more spacious reimagining of the microbus. Other features are theater-seating and assisted steering and navigation.


Max-Out

Nissan's Max-Out sports car concept -- featuring modular seating.
Nissan's Max-Out sports car concept -- featuring modular seating.

Nissan's concept sports car would have flexible seating for one or two passengers and a convertible roof to enjoy the smog-free scenery of an electrified world. The car would also be equipped with Nissan's latest in powertrain control technology.


Much of the research and development dollars from Nissan will likely go towards another of the company's stated goals -- the removal of cobalt from its batteries by 2028.


Cobalt mining is a particularly dirty part of the clean energy transition. As The New York Times recently reported, the element is considered the "blood diamond" of clean energy. Its major deposits are in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, where corruption and the use of child labor are endemic.


A pilot plant for its all-solid-state battery technology should be ready as early as 2024, according to a statement from the company. It's possible that the new battery chemistry from Nissan will rely on innovations from portfolio companies like Ionic Materials, which was hailed for developing what one tech publication called the "Jesus Battery" .


Nissan hopes to drop the costs of EV batteries down to $75 per kilowatt hour by 2028 down from current prices of around $144 per kWh.


Part of those reductions will come from ramping up the company's battery production capacity to 52 GWh by 2026 and 130 GWh by the fiscal year 2030.


The company also expects to bring its massive, integrated battery and manufacturing facilities to Japan, China and the U.S. after inaugurating the first facility earlier this year in the UK.


That's going to require massive capital outlays, since the facility in England cost roughly $1.3 billion.


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