Nissan to focus on fuel-saving tech and electric cars in China

19 April 2021 - 16:53 By Reuters
The new Nissan X-Trail is powered by a frugal three-cylinder turbo engine.
The new Nissan X-Trail is powered by a frugal three-cylinder turbo engine.
Image: Supplied

Japan's Nissan Motor Co, which is racing to lift margins and curb costs amid slowing sales, showed off a redesigned version of its X-Trail model on Monday and announced a green car strategy for China at the Shanghai auto show.

The redesigned X-Trail sport-utility vehicle (SUV) was on display after a similar SUV called the Rogue hit the US market last year. The new X-Trail will be available in China this year.

The new car is powered by a fuel-sipping three-cylinder, petrol-powered turbo engine.

One source said it might face an uphill battle finding buyers in China where similar technologies have proved unpopular. Another source said the vehicle was a “must succeed, a must win car for us”.

Both sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to speak with reporters.

In addition to the X-Trail's China debut, COO Ashwani Gupta told reporters Nissan's green car strategy in China would focus on electric hybrids with fuel efficient petrol engines, and on battery electric cars.

Gupta, who was addressing reporters in Shanghai from Japan, said six Nissan models would be equipped with e-Power hybrid technology by 2025, starting with the Sylphy later this year.

In January, Nissan said all its new vehicles in key markets, including China, would be electrified by the early 2030s, as part of its efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

The strategy comes as regulatory pressure in China grows on carmakers to slash emissions.

China is a key pillar of Nissan's turnaround strategy, which involves focusing on China, Japan and the US, rather than the global growth pursued by ousted boss Carlos Ghosn.

The company is scrambling to slash its production capacity and model line-up by a fifth, and is also seeking to cut fixed costs by 300 billion yen (roughly R39,891,796,000).

Nissan aims to achieve a 5% operating profit margin and a sustainable global market share of 6% by the end of the fiscal year 2023.

The two sources said Nissan planned to start taking “pre-orders” in China for its upcoming electric Ariya SUV before the end of 2021. The firm also plans to launch an e-Power X-Trail as early as next year.