In a Trend, Ford and Nissan Drop Hints about Future Electric SUVs

By · March 20, 2018

Tesla showroom in Portland, Ore.

The Nissan IMx all-electric SUV, just a concept, offers 380 miles of range.

The automotive blogosphere is buzzing this week about Autocar's quote from Mamoru Aoki, Nissan's Europe-based design chief. "We have the new LEAF, but I think the production version of the IMx concept will become a breakthrough model," said Aoki. "The IMx is not just a concept car. In a few years, it will appear."

Aoki is referring to the 380-mile all-electric IMx concept, which debuted in Tokyo in October. As a designer, he played up how the EV's flat floor will create more interior space, while the dashboard could be pushed closer to the windscreen. But it's the IMx's 429-horsepower four-wheel-drive system and accessible price that could very well be the selling point.

Nissan has long promised a follow-up to the LEAF, but no definitive dates were mentioned.

Meanwhile, Ford last week also has made vague promises for a future electric crossover SUV. Jim Farley, Ford's president of global sales, said to expect a high-performance electric SUV by 2020.

Ford's first mention of a 300-mile all-electric SUV came more than a year ago. With little news in the past year, Farley last week said, "Being stuck in the past is a death sentence for a company. Innovation is moving at light speed, and you have to keep ahead of it." The company is promising that it will offer a conventional hybrid version of its five SUVs by 2020 and make as many six pure electric cars by 2022.

Nissan and Ford, both companies that led early with hybrid and electric models, could be falling behind the crowd. For example, Hyundai is expected to offer its all-electric Kona SUV in about 2019. The Kona, a small SUV crossover with bold styling, is being introduced as a gas model in the US this month. Industry analysts believe the Kona EV will be equipped with a 50 kilowatt-hour battery pack, which could push its range beyond 200 miles on a single charge. The price for the all-electric Kona is expected to be less than $40,000.

Hyundai already sells its Ioniq hatchback, as both all-electric and plug-in hybrid variants, as well as the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid. The Kia showroom offers the Niro Plug-in Hybrid, Optima Plug-in Hybrid, and the Soul EV. On the other hand, Nissan offers a single model, the LEAF, albeit the best-selling EV of all time.

Tesla showroom in Portland, Ore.

The second all-electric crossover will be the Jaguar i-Pace, due in late 2018.

The field of electric crossovers could quickly go from minimal to crowded. In addition to upcoming affordable long-range electric SUVs from Hyundai, Nissan, and Ford, there is the Tesla Model X, the coming Tesla Model Y crossover, and future luxury offerings from Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo.

While it's exciting to consider the prospect of an affordable long-range electric SUV from the likes of Nissan and Ford, there's a difference between off-the-cuff comments about potential future products and a definite timeline, specifications, and price for a specific model.

As of today, the Tesla Model X, which commonly sells for more than six figures, is the sole electric SUV on the road. Next up, the Jaguar i-Pace--with 240 miles of range, acceleration to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, and a base price of $69,500--is expected to arrive before the end of 2018.

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