Four people familiar with the matter said that Nissan Motor Co’s new Ariya electric vehicle has been plagued by problems at the high-tech production line, delaying the delivery of a vehicle designed to take the manufacturer to market. Export this car onto the back road.
Launched in 2020 to strong reviews, the crossover is Nissan’s first all-new global vehicle in five years and signals its intention to turn the tide of chaos following the departure of its former leader. Carlos Ghosn. But production is running at least a third of schedule, making it impossible for Ariya to deliver to new customers, according to three people and production plan notes reviewed by Reuters. All of these people declined to be identified because it was a matter of privacy.
The shortfall represents a lost opportunity to capitalize on the Ariya’s buzz and test demand for the first of 19 new EVs Nissan plans to roll out by 2030. It also hampers growth plans. the automaker’s development in the electric car market that it helped pioneer before ceding dominance to Tesla Corporation
The two said production of the Ariya had been slowed down due to problems with the highly automated “smart factory” production system it built for the model at its factory in Tochigi, in the north. Tokyo. Nissan has designed a system that allows the automaker with different powertrains – battery, hybrid and internal combustion engine – on the same line.
Implementation proved “an extremely, extremely challenging” and the advanced paint line became a nagging headache, one of them said. Nissan is also facing a plating shortage for Ariya’s electronic components following a fire at China-based supplier Wuxi Welnew Micro-Electronic in January, a source said. The supplier told Reuters it had moved production to a second plant and was “working to restore production”.
In a statement to Reuters, Nissan said Ariya production had faced challenges including semiconductor supplies, disruptions in component shipments and the plant’s paint line. “Nissan is working hard and diligently to fully regain production capacity at the plant,” the company said. S&P Global Ratings this week downgraded Nissan’s debt rating to junk, saying profit margins and sales are unlikely to improve as quickly as previously expected.
The production challenges came when Nissan and France’s Renault SA in January agreed to overhaul their two-decade-old alliance on a more equal footing. Nissan also agreed to invest in Renault’s new electric vehicle business.
The Japanese automaker sparked a wave of interest in electric vehicles early with the Leaf hatchback in 2010. But by 2020, that car has been overtaken by Tesla’s Model 3 in lifetime sales. According to two sources, electric vehicles will account for only 4.5 percent of Nissan’s total global sales of 3.2 million vehicles by 2022. Nissan has set a target of producing 400 Ariya units per day, equivalent to nearly 9,000 vehicles per day. month and more than 100,000 vehicles per year.
Output over the next two months is expected to be below that, according to a production plan note from last month reviewed by Reuters. Production in March is forecast below 6,900 vehicles and at around 5,200 in April and 5,400 in May, according to the planning note. That has been brought down, one of the people said. Nissan did not comment on current production or output targets.
US dealers stopped taking customer orders last year, while Japanese dealers stopped taking orders in August. The Ariya was supposed to hit showrooms in 2021, but that was pushed back to 2022 due to a global chip shortage.
General manager Mario Beltran said Dublin Nissan in northern California has an Ariya to test drive, but it’s not for sale. He said dealers are waiting for more that could arrive this spring.
“Just like Beetle brought Volkswagen back, I think Ariya will bring Nissan back,” Beltran said, adding that some customers have canceled Tesla deposits for Ariya.
The car has won rave reviews for its bold exterior and sleek interior with lighting inspired by Japanese lanterns. With a starting price of around $43,000 in the United States, the Ariya is an alternative to Tesla’s Model Y, which costs about $4,300 more after a recent sale and US deals. Ariya is eligible for a $7,500 credit paid to Nissan’s finance company on a lease.
The Ariya line was built with an initial investment of 33 billion yen ($243 million) as part of a “smart factory” initiative that Nissan says represents an entirely new production system. with robots and a commitment to zero emissions. The new paint line is designed to paint the entire car, including the bodywork and bumpers, to improve performance and be more environmentally friendly.
Nissan has also invested in a new assembly technique that allows the various powertrains to be lifted from below prior to robotic installation, saving time. The new system uses an automated pallet to mount the pre-assembled drivetrain.
Date of first publication: March 10, 2023, 11:17 am IST