Major car brand pauses development of electric vehicles amid slump in demand from drivers

Major car brand pauses development of electric vehicles amid slump in demand from drivers

WATCH: Rishi Sunak on Nissan's EV investment in Sunderland

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 22/05/2024

- 10:42

Updated: 22/05/2024

- 10:43

The manufacturer has added several new electric cars to its US lineup

Nissan has become the latest major manufacturer to delay further developments of its electric vehicle lineup, instead opting to "reshape plans".

The Japanese brand has paused development plans for two battery-powered sedans in the United States amid an industry-wide slump in electric car sales.

As part of the restructuring in funding, Nissan will reportedly pause a $500million (£392million) investment in its assembly plant in Canton, Mississippi.

However, while the two new sedans will be delayed, the brand is pushing ahead with the introduction of new electric vehicles, bringing its US lineup to five.

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Nissan said new electric SUVs would make it to the market before sedans


A spokesperson for the brand said: "We are adjusting the timeline for the introduction of these five new models to ensure we bring the vehicles to the market at the right time," Reuters reported.

As part of the new lineup, the brand will launch new battery-powered crossover SUVs, which have become more popular with consumers in recent years.

Nissan said the sedans are still part of the production plan, but believes that the SUVs will be rolled out faster, with the Canton manufacturing plant acting as a key location for its next generation of vehicles.

In a memo, originally seen by Automotive News, suppliers were told to "stop all development activities related to [the EV sedan] project until further notice.

Jeremie Papin, chairperson for Nissan Americas, previously said that the brand needed to be "pragmatic and reactive" to demand from drivers for electric vehicles.

He added: "What matters is making sure that we launch the vehicles that the customer wants, at the time the customer wants it," he told Automotive News.

Weaker-than-expected global sales of electric vehicles have prompted manufacturers to rethink their strategy, with some now focusing more on hybrids, petrol and diesel vehicles.

In July 2023, Nissan announced that it had surpassed the one million unit milestone, with the Leaf being one of the pioneer electric vehicles around the globe with more than 650,000 units sold worldwide.

Currently, Nissan only has two electric cars available on the UK market - the Nissan Lead family car and the Nissan Ariya coupe crossover.

Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) found that 22,717 new electric vehicles were registered in April this year, representing a strong 16.9 per cent market share.

While experts are in support of the recent boost in EV sales, there are still fears that companies are still dominating sales, while individuals purchasing cars are not yet as strong.

In November 2023, Nissan announced a major expansion of its manufacturing plant in Sunderland where they announced two new electric vehicle models would be developed in the UK.


Jeremy Hunt and Rishi Sunak at the electric Nissan factoryJeremy Hunt and Rishi Sunak at the electric Nissan factory praised investment into the UK PA

As part of the £2billion investment from the Japanese manufacturer, Nissan said it would enable wider investment in infrastructure projects and the supply chain, including a new gigafactory.

Speaking at the time, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: "Nissan’s investment is a massive vote of confidence in the UK’s automotive industry, which already contributes a massive £71billion a year to our economy.

"This venture will no doubt secure Sunderland’s future as the UK’s Silicon Valley for electric vehicle innovation and manufacturing."

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