More than a decade after launching the Leaf electric hatchback, Nissan is prepping for a second act.
The Japanese automaker will introduce the Ariya electric crossover in the U.S. in late 2021. It foreshadows a range of electric vehicles to be built on a new dedicated platform co-developed by Nissan and partner Renault.
Nissan National Dealer Advisory Board Chairman Scott Smith described the Ariya as a potential game-changer.
"The Ariya offers style and design in our biggest segment," Smith, president of Smith Automotive Group near Atlanta, told Automotive News.
But the dealer is not sure Americans are ready for the battalion of EVs being trotted out by automakers.
"It remains to be seen what the appetite for the U.S. consumer is for a volume electric vehicle," Smith said.
The Leaf enjoyed the early-mover advantage. U.S. sales of the hatchback have topped 151,000 since it was introduced here in December 2010.
The Leaf achieved its volume success in part through government subsidy and was able to sell mostly on price, Smith said. "So we don't know what the true demand will be for the Ariya," he said.
The Ariya is expected to start at about $40,000. High-performance grades could push the price up by at least another $10,000.