With Nissan drawing combustion engine development to a close, one question mark that’s been lingering is what the company plans to do with Nismo. For nearly 40 years the company’s in-house motorsports and tuning shop has churned out some of the wildest street-legal engines in the world. Currently, it’s responsible for the 600-horsepower Nissan GT-R Nismo, heritage parts for now-classic Skyline GT-Rs, and handling packages on some of the company’s more mundane offerings.
However, Nismo will not go quietly into that EV night, according to Top Gear. “It’s not a gimmick,” Nissan’s European chairperson Guillaume Cartier told the British outlet at a recent Formula E race. “To use an English expression, it’s not lipstick on a pig.”
Nissan plans to spend $17.7 billion introducing 23 electrified cars in the next five years, with 15 of them running solely on battery juice. Cartier says the Yokohama-based company is in the process of determining which of these vehicles would be best suited for the Nismo treatment. Among the concepts Nissan has shown, one called the Max-Out is an AWD, open-top, EV sports car.
Cartier says the goal is to “bring performance,” citing “specific suspension and powertrain.” Using the example of the upcoming Ariya, he told Top Gear that it doesn’t just mean a bigger battery. The Ariya already has a performance model, the dual-motor Platinum+ boasting 389 horsepower and all-wheel-drive, which is a 151-horse bump over the front-wheel-drive’s 238. “So we need to go higher that that,” Cartier explained.
It’s up to each brand to see if they can forge a unique path. Nismo has quite a bit of heritage and capital built up with enthusiasts. It’ll be interesting to see if Nissan can translate that into a new era of performance.