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Nissan Navara EV unlikely - for now

"Demanding" ute customers will be waiting a while for a Navara EV.

At the launch of Nissan’s second-generation Leaf EV, Nic Thomas - the brand's global director of EVs - told CarsGuide the Navara skipping straight to a fully-electric drivetrain was unlikely, at least for the foreseeable future.

Mr Thomas said electrification of the Japanese brand’s light commercial range was on the horizon, and that diesel was inevitably doomed thanks to a combination of regulations and technology, but that we shouldn’t expect the next-generation Navara to be offered as an EV.

“Ute customers in particular are demanding, they need something rugged and reliable, and right now EV technology is more suited to commuters in cities who travel within that 40km limit talked about in the [Nissan’s Leaf’s launch] presentation.”

When quizzed on how the Navara would deal with stricter emissions requirements and Nissan’s pledge to make its range “Zero Emissions”, the executive commented that an electric-motor-driven range-extended variant, under Nissan’s e-Power umbrella, would be more feasible than a straight switch to full-EV.

Mr Thomas was also quizzed on recent comments by a BMW executive to press in Europe that electrification was “over-hyped” and that regional centres outside affluent coastal regions would prevent more widespread acceptance of EVs.

“We see a surprising amount of Leaf customers existing on the fringe of or outside major metro areas in other cities around the world. This is where the garages are in Japan and Europe, obviously it’s a different case in Australia where more consumers have garages closer to the city, but China and Australia have some of the highest percentages of their populations in cities. I would disagree with what that BMW executive said,” Mr Thomas said.

Bold EV-only manufacturers like Rivian and Tesla plan to go head-on into the commercial and off-road segments with their upcoming ute offerings, and some Toyota Land Cruisers are currently receiving third-party EV conversions for heavy-duty mining work.

While Nissan thinks there is still work to do to make an electrified Navara, the Ford- and Amazon-backed Rivian is taking the ute segment head-on with its electric R1T. While Nissan thinks there is still work to do to make an electrified Navara, the Ford- and Amazon-backed Rivian is taking the ute segment head-on with its electric R1T.

The current Navara is currently five years into its lifecycle and is due to receive a much-needed multimedia update in the near future. As to the next-generation, the Navara is confirmed to share its underpinnings with the next-generation Mitsubishi Triton and Renault Alaskan thanks to the massive global alliance between the automakers. It could be three years or more to see what the end product will look like.

It is also rumoured that Mercedes-Benz will not extend the Navara-based X-Class into a second generation.

Do you want to see more electric utes hit the streets in the near future, or would you prefer they burned fossil fuels for decades yet? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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