Nissan to cease most petrol engine development – report

Japanese car brand Nissan is ending the development of new petrol engines in most markets, according to a new overseas report, in favour of electric cars – following Hyundai and many other brands.

Nissan will end the majority of its petrol engine development in favour of electric cars, becoming the first Japanese manufacturer to do so, according to a new report.

Nikkei Asia reports Nissan has already ceased development of brand-new petrol engines for Europe – and will soon stop developing new engines for China and Japan, with the US to become the sole market for which all-new engines are designed.

Development of combustion engines for hybrid and plug-in hybrid systems will continue, however, as will “limited” development of petrol engines for Nissan’s US-market utes and pick-ups, the Frontier and Titan, where Nikkei Asia says Nissan “expects a certain level of demand”.

The Japanese car maker will continue to “improve” existing internal combustion engine (ICE) families for future vehicles, in addition to the above. Petrol and diesel engine production will remain operational for the foreseeable future, with no factory closures planned.

It’s worth noting the Nikkei Asia report does not explicitly reference diesel engines as a victim of Nissan’s slow-down of engine development – however given demand for diesel fuel is slowing even faster than that of petrol, it’s unlikely diesel engines will be given a stay of execution.

How Nissan’s reported decision to cease most engine development affects its Alliance partners Renault and Mitsubishi remains to be seen, as the engines powering nearly all Nissan vehicles are shared with the aforementioned brands – companies which have not announced end dates for engine development.

Given neither of Nissan’s US-market utes are sold locally, it’s likely Australian buyers will be directly affected by Nissan’s decision, as the engines powering the company’s best-selling models – the X-Trail medium SUV and Navara ute – were developed partly or wholly by the Japanese brand.

It also means the new Nissan Z sports car – due in Australia later this year – is likely to be the last with V6 petrol power, as its ‘VR30’ twin-turbo V6 would be 15 years old by the time another generation is due towards the end of this decade.

The new Z sports car’s turbo V6 is a derivative of the ‘VR38DETT’ 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 powering the Nissan GT-R supercar – a car and engine combination first launched overseas in 2007, or 15 years ago.

Nissan will redirect its budget for petrol car and engine development – a significant portion of an annual 500 billion Japanese yen ($AU6.1 billion) sum – towards electric vehicles, Nikkei Asia reports, with employees currently working on new petrol engines to be diverted to electric car-related projects over time.

New Euro 7 emissions regulations will come into force as early as 2025 in Europe – which Nissan has reportedly determined will “raise the cost of developing internal combustion engines to unsustainable levels”, according to Nikkei Asia.

Late last year, Nissan committed to investing two trillion Japanese yen ($AU24 billion) investment by 2030 for the development of 15 new electric vehicles, as part of a plan to have hybrid and electric cars account for 50 per cent of global Nissan (and luxury Infiniti brand) sales by 2030.

The 15 upcoming electric cars will include a replacement for Europe’s Nissan Micra city car – sharing its mechanicals with the reborn Renault 5 – and a new British-built small SUV, expected to replace the current Leaf electric hatchback in 2025.

Nissan aims to introduce solid-state battery technology by early 2028, claimed to double energy density, reduce charging time by two thirds, and cut costs to $US65 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to eventually achieve price parity with petrol-powered cars.

The broader Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance has indicated plans to launch 35 new electric cars by 2030, following a €23 billion ($AU36.5 billion) over the next five years.

While Nissan is believed to be the first Japanese car maker to begin phasing out petrol engine development, it’s not the first brand globally – with reports suggesting Hyundai recently scaled down or paused its engine development division.

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