Nissan says next GT-R will be electric, needs solid state batteries

Nissan took its “vision for a next-generation all-electric high-performance supercar” — the equivalent of a futuristic GT-R concept — to the Japan Mobility Show in the form of the Hyper Force. This was a battery-electric, carbon-fiber-bodied coupe harnessing more than 1,300 horsepower through the automaker’s e-4orce all-wheel drive. Sounds exactly GT-R to us. Nissan didn’t specify how many motors went into making that output, but it did specify that solid-state batteries supplied the energy to those motors. Top Gear spoke to carmaker Nissan product boss Ivan Espinoza, who made it clear that a production version of a future GT-R will need to wait for solid-state batteries to be market-ready.   

Nissan has publicized plans to have a facility producing pilot versions of solid-state batteries next year, 2024, with mass production for retail products under way by 2029. Assuming all goes to plan, that’s when an R36 GT-R could theoretically be cleared hot.

It appears the GT-R’s existence isn’t in question, only the timeline, Espinoza saying, “We’re committed to having a sports car offering in the future, this is for sure.” However, that sports car needs “to wait until the ASSB [‘all solid state battery’] is out, it’s stable and it’s ready, so we can go. With the density improvement, we can deliver a much better packaging that improves the aero and the overall behavior of the car while maintaining the 2+2 layout.”

It’s a refrain we’ve heard from other carmakers with similar products, and there seem to be two camps. One group of hardcore sports car makers is rolling out products with current battery technology: Lotus, Pininfarina, Rimac, and GM with its all-electric Corvette on the way. Another group is waiting for one or two evolutions in technology before committing: Bugatti, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Porsche with its electric 911. 

Nissan has more in mind than merely the rejuvenation of a halo that will be 20 years old come 2029. Top Gear characterized the future vision as creating two GT-Rs, a “friendly” daily driver and a track monster “entirely dialed in for the track.” Below that would come the Z, and below that would come “a new, more affordable entry-level sports car” that gets it own Nismo version. And by the time the next GT-R gets here, all of these products would be electric. 

What happens between now and then? We have no idea. We imagine Nissan execs want to keep building it because it’s such a important car to the culture and enthusiasts. In the U.S., through the first three quarters of the year, dealers have sold 312 units. Paltry, but that sum already beats full-year sales for the past three years and is only 19 units behind all of 2019. Elsewhere, the GT-R’s age has seen it fade from regions where adapting to regulations would cost more than is reasonable, including historically important markets like the UK and Australia. No matter what happens, we suspect Nissan will give us plenty to chew on, the automaker still just digging into its global recovery after more than a decade of the doldrums. While the world waits on a new monster, we could make do with a production version of the Safari Rally Z Tribute to hold us over for a spell.

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