NEW YORK—Think of this spring’s New York International Auto Show as sort of the yearly swan song of the automotive show circuit.
It follows major shows at Los Angeles, Detroit and Geneva with new variations of earlier unveilings, some last minute concepts and flights of fancy, along with a few debuts deliberately held back by manufacturers searching for a longer spread of media attention.
There was a surprising hint of Canadian flavour in the opening remarks of Nissan’s main presentation and debuts.
“You skate to where the puck is going, not to where it’s been,” said Jose Munoz, Nissan’s VP of sales & marketing.
You don’t normally expect a hockey analogy when a Spanish sales manager takes to the stage with his British boss to make opening remarks about their Franco-Japanese company’s corporate philosophy.
But, quoting Wayne Gretzky in front of a mixed international audience at the New York show is one more indicator of how diverse the combined hierarchies of both companies have become since Nissan’s merger with Renault.
And the analogy is a good way to define a corporate focus fixed solidly on a future that Nissan has defined as the Era of Electrification.
Nissan is now a global leader in electric vehicle sales with more than 50,000 Leafs sold and with three more EVs in the works—the Infiniti LE, an electric NV200 commercial truck application and a coming EV city car.
These make up just part of the astonishing mix of 51 new models promised by Nissan for the near future—a debut rate of one new car every six weeks from now until 2016!
There is no one solution to the energy challenges of the future, but Nissan’s broad approach includes not only electric vehicles and future fuel cell projects, but also a broad swath of hybrid alternatives to compliment regular gasoline-powered models in the lineup. There are hybrid plans across the lineup, even hints of a surprise electrification of the GT-R supercar.
Which explains a next step taken with the debut of the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid at New York.
Following up on the fourth-generation 2013 Pathfinder that debuted just last year, this new Pathfinder Hybrid model promises to enhance fuel economy and reduce CO2 emissions with no reduction of driving performance, passenger roominess or cargo capacity.
The Pathfinder’s new Hybrid powertrain option will be available in three Canadian trim levels—SV, SL and Platinum Premium—when it joins the lineup later this summer. It should be priced at around just $3,000 more than the regular Pathfinder models so, based on SV trim starting prices, it should begin at under $40K.
The Pathfinder Hybrid is affordable because it matches motor and battery size For the Hybrid version, Pathfinder’s standard 3.5-litre V6 is replaced by a new supercharged 2.5-litre gasoline engine and electric motor powered by a compact Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery.
The 15 kW electric motor and gas engine combine to provide performance similar to the conventional Pathfinder. The system is rated at 250 net hp and 243 lb/ft of torque—versus the 3.5-litre V6’s 260 hp and 240 lb/ft of torque.
The Hybrid’s tow rating is slightly less—3,500 lb—but compact battery storage under the third row seat means that the Hybrid’s interior room is unchanged—same legroom, same headroom, same cargo space as the regular Pathfinder.
And, with fuel economy estimated at 7.2L/100km (combined city/hwy), an improvement of 24 percent over the standard Pathfinder, the Hybrid’s same-size 73-litre fuel tank, promises a driving range of over 1,000 km.
At the Infiniti stand, Nissan’s premier division unveiled the new QX60 (formerly JX25) Hybrid, an even more upscale sibling to the Pathfinder that shares many of the mechanical components along with the same performance and dimensional numbers as above.
Like the Pathfinder Hybrid, the QX60 Hybrid’s price bump will be about $3,000 more than the conventional model in the same trim.
The QX60 Hybrid follows up on the earlier Q70 Hybrid (currently marketed as the M Hybrid Sedan) and the announced Q50 Hybrid (a hybrid version of the former G Sedan) with striking sporty lines designed to shake up the normal placid flavour of hybrid technology and design.
And this is only the beginning with Infiniti promising a hybrid version of every vehicle in its lineup within the near future.