Japan’s Nissan Cuts EV Costs, Reduces Use of Rare Materials End-shutdown

TOKYO– Japanese automaker Nissan is accelerating its electrification shift and cutting costs by using the same components across all models and reducing the use of expensive rare materials.

Nissan Motor Co. on Thursday unveiled its “X-in-1” development strategy, in which the X stands for various powertrain parts, such as an electric motor and inverter, that can be used across all models. The company said that development and manufacturing costs will be reduced by 30% in 2026 compared to 2019 levels.

The Yokohama-based automaker pioneered electric vehicles, but rivals like Tesla and China’s BYD have surpassed it.

As the movement towards eco-friendly models gathers momentum around the world, fueled by concerns about climate change, Nissan has been eager to show off its prowess.

Its senior vice president, Toshihiro Hirai, acknowledged that prices for rare earths and other materials needed to make electric vehicle batteries and other parts are expected to rise in the coming years. That means automakers need to have a solid strategy for sourcing raw materials if they hope to succeed in electrification.

“We make the most of our experience and insights from more than a decade of developing and producing electrified technologies,” Hirai said.

Compared to the first-generation vehicle, the Leaf, rare materials account for 25% of the weight of the 2019 Nissan Note EV. Nissan aims to make that 1% or less.

Nissan, which also makes the March subcompact and Infiniti luxury models, is working on solid-state battery technology for electric vehicles, a move that, if successful, will slash costs.

By 2030, Nissan’s EV offerings will cost about the same at dealerships as equivalent regular gasoline-powered models, Hirai said.

Cheaper EVs like the Leaf now sell for under $30,000, though small internal combustion engine cars are cheaper, around $21,000 for the Nissan Sentra in the US.

A Tesla Model 3, a relatively affordable model for a Tesla, sells for about $43,000.

But electric vehicles are often eligible for tax credits and other incentives. High gas prices may make EVs a smart buy in the long run, though a lot depends on the owner’s driving habits.

A Consumer Reports analysis from last year said that based on the price of gasoline at the time of $4.31 per gallon, electric vehicle owners could save between $1,800 and $2,600 in operating and maintenance costs for every 15,000 miles driven, compared to with drivers of gasoline-powered vehicles.

That’s the average distance newer vehicles drive in a year in the US Since then, gas prices have fallen, so the savings would be smaller but still significant.

Hirai said people find driving an electric vehicle less stressful because it’s quiet and offers a smooth ride, even on rough terrain, while maintaining the fun-to-drive feeling. One advantage of an EV is its more precise control over each wheel, which can effectively counter bumps and jolts.

Nissan has promised 27 new electrified models, including eight e-Power “series hybrid” models, which have both a gasoline engine and an electric motor, by fiscal 2030.


Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

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