Nissan Australia has stopped short of saying it will make an all-electric Navara ute, and insisted that for it to consider any form of electrified powertrain it must also be able to deliver the same power, torque and towing abilities.
Nissan is, it seems, at a crossroads in terms of a direction that its larger models will take as the world transitions to a future of electric mobility.
The Navara is generally perceived in Australia as underpowered compared to competitors such as the Ford Ranger, and the recently announced N-Trek Warrior looks to address this with rugged off-road suspension for Australian conditions.
But the Japanese carmaker, which also makes the popular all-electric Leaf, is developing a vision of an electric future as has been seen at recent unveils such as the Ariya electric crossover concept and the electric IMk urban city car concept.
Speaking at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show to media from the Asia-Pacific region, Nissan’s global head of light commercial vehicle Francois Bailley said that while the carmaker recognises that electrification is the future, it has not decided on which direction electrification of its larger models will take.
“Electrification of the line-up will continue; we are looking at different technologies from full EV to plug-in hybrid, hybrid and so-on. But we have not decided which technology we pick,” Bailley said according to Go Auto.
Bailley also refused to comment on whether the next Navara might instead pack a V6 engine, and said that any electrified model must offer the same power and range as its internal combustion engine (ICE) models.
“But it is really critical what we learn from different markets. Especially with pick-up trucks, we don’t believe the customers will tolerate any compromise in terms of towing, payload, range. We must supply the same capabilities as [ICE models].
“Electrification is the future, but how it will manifest we haven’t yet decided. This is where we are going, as an industry.”
Interesting though, is the fact that Nissan-Dongfeng – Nissan’s 50:50 joint venture in China – brought an all-electric ute to market in China in July.
The Rich 6, believed to be the first production electric ute, is based on the Nissan Navara.
Instead of the N-Trek’s 2.3 litre twin-turbo charged diesel engine that delivers 140kW of power and 450Nm torque, the Rich 6 packs a 68kWh battery with 403km range, and a single electric motor that delivers slightly less power than the ICE model, with 120kW power and 420Nm torque.
Asked whether it might look instead to Mitsubishi for its plug-in hybrid as seen in the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Bailley – who once worked at Mitsubishi – declined to confirm whether this might be the case.
“Mitsubishi has a history like Nissan with a very strong heritage of building pick-up trucks, and we are working with them… I’m not ready yet to share with you any specific technology to be introduced,” he said.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.