Nissan’s Navara is inching closer to being electrified, with one of the Japanese brand’s senior executives providing the strongest indication yet that the ute will make its big low-emissions move in the coming years.
Speaking to CarsGuide last week, Nissan Australia managing director Stephen Lester stopped short of confirming but did not rule out a hybrid powertrain for the next-generation Navara, which is expected in 2024, around the same time as its Mitsubishi Triton twin.
“To maybe be a little bit more circumspect on the whole thing is just around the idea of ‘why not?’” he said.
Read more about the Nissan Navara
“The principles of a truck, ute – whatever you want to call it – are for towing, are for hauling, pay demands (and) generally speaking, high-output, high-torque engines, motors, etcetera.
“I don’t have any plans or discussions to disclose on that, but this, to me, is the feeling of why wouldn’t it change or evolve at some point?
“One of the unique things about battery-electric vehicles is certainly that the floor is flat, so in the design of all of our vehicles and how vehicles work, there is actually a very significant design change, philosophy and utility around how that design works.
“You’re no longer worrying about the transmission tunnel and how that works in the flow of the floor, and the seating plan, and the interior and how things work, both in the interior cabin, but also in the boot and the rest of the vehicle.
“I think, certainly, we’ll see evolution over time, and I would just argue there’s no reason why that can’t change.”
When asked if Nissan’s e-Power hybrid system in particular would be added to the Navara, Mr Lester also left the door open for the set-up, which sees the wheels driven by electric power only, while an internal-combustion engine (ICE) acts as a generator for the battery.
“Again, I would say, in a lot of those technology questions, it’s just the ‘why not’ part,” he said. “The most important part is that the vehicle is fit for purpose and does what it says it’s going to do.
“So, there’s no point making an electric, or a hybrid or a petrol anything that nobody wants. You can make the smallest-displacement ICE engine getting magnificent fuel economy, but if you can only do 3km/h, there’s nobody signing up for it; it’s not fit for purpose.”
As always, time will tell what the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger and Isuzu D-Max rival’s first steps towards electrification will look like, but they’re seemingly inevitable, so stay tuned.