Here's a simple fact you probably haven't thought much about: the batteries at the heart of electric vehicle are heavy. (Even sleek-looking Teslas are still super heavy.) That has led most manufacturers in two different directions: vehicles are either super-sized, like GM's upcoming Hummer EV, so they can hold a lot of batteries; or they're super-small like the Hyundai Kona EV so they can manage with smaller batteries.
The transformative moment will be when a manufacturer produces something in the middle: an EV that looks like the compact crossovers buyers want, while still being affordable — and, perhaps, even a bit fun to drive. As of now, Nissan may be the closest to achieving that, thanks to the new Ariya EV the company has just unveiled.
The Ariya is a two-row, five-passenger crossover. Nissan is calling its design an expression of a new stylistic language called "timeless Japanese futurism" (whatever that means). It will come packing two powertrains: front-wheel-drive and e-Force all-wheel-drive. There will be both standard-range and long-range trims of each; crucially, Nissan estimates the long-range FWD version should hit 300 miles of range, a mark so far only cracked by Tesla.
Nissan didn't give precise performance specs, but the models will range between 214 and 389 horsepower, and deliver between 221 and 443 lb-ft of torque. Claims the Ariya with the higher specs will be "as fast or faster than a Z car" seem reasonable...at least, when it comes to acceleration off the line.
Size-wise, the Ariya will be in the Rogue's ballpark. It will be 2.1 inches shorter than the Rogue, but have a 2.8-inch longer wheelbase, and stand 2.8 inches wider than the Rogue and 2.6 inches shorter.
Nissan says the Ariya will arrive in the U.S. in late 2021, and that the MSRP will likely land be around $40,000. That would price the base model around $10,000 less than the Tesla Model Y. That said, with Nissan's present financial difficulties, a lot is riding on its success.