Nissan to stop gas engine development

Nissan plans to stop the development of new internal combustion engines to focus on electrified vehicles in all markets but the U.S., according to a report from the Nikkei business daily on Monday

The speculative report claims that limited development of gas engines will continue only in the U.S. market for Nissan’s pickup trucks, which currently include the Nissan Titan and Nissan Frontier. It remains to be seen how this will affect Nissan offerings in North America, where powertrains historically have had a long life. 

Redesigned for the first time in 17 years, the 2022 Frontier mid-size pickup truck rides on a platform distinct to the North American market but with a powertrain that carries over from the 2020 model that isn’t offered in other Nissan vehicles. The 3.8-liter V-6 makes 310 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque and comes with rear-wheel drive or available four-wheel drive. The engine pairs to a 9-speed automatic transmission rolling out in the latest Nissan and Infiniti vehicles.  

The redesigned 2022 Nissan Pathfinder and 2022 Infiniti QX60 both use a carryover 3.5-liter V-6, but power is shuttled to the front or all four wheels through a 9-speed automatic that replaced the clunky CVT in the outgoing models. The change improved towing capacity and responsiveness in the three-row crossovers. While output remained the same at 295 hp and 270 lb-ft (the Pathfinder makes 284 hp and 259 lb-ft) towing capacity increased from 5,000 lb to 6,000 lb in both vehicles.

That direct injection V-6 has been used since the 2017 model year, not long after the Pathfinder hybrid was discontinued, and will likely be in use for the next five years based on product life-cycle cadence. 

The Titan full-size pickup truck employs an outdated 400-hp, 5.6-liter V-8 that’s been around since the truck’s launch in 2003, though in escalating grades of tuning. With their latest full-size trucks, Toyota and Ford have moved to twin-turbo V-6 engines with hybrid options that Nissan could follow if it decides to invest more money in its high-margin, low-volume full-size truck. 

The only significant engine change in the past coupe years for Nissan has been downsizing in its bestseller, the Nissan Rogue. Less than one year after redesigning the compact crossover, Nissan for 2022 swapped out the 2.5-liter inline-4 for a variable compression 1.5-liter turbo-3 that boosts output to 201 hp and 225 lb-ft (from 181 hp and 181 lb-ft) and improves fuel economy from 30 mpg to 33 mpg combined.   

It’s speculated that Nissan moving forward will embrace some sort of electrification, though whether that’s through hybrid, plug-in hybrids, battery electric vehicles, or a mix of them is unclear. The company plans to build battery recycling factories in the U.S. and Europe in 2026. 

If Nissan does confirm that it’s ceasing internal combustion engine development, it would join Ford, Volvo, and Mercedes-Benz in pledging a future of electrification and a similar phaseout. 

Nissan would not comment on this report, which will be updated as more information becomes available. 

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