The upcoming next-generation Nissan Z is one of the most eagerly awaited new cars in the industry. The Z is, after all, an iconic product for the brand. Renewing the Z is like Ford redesigning the Mustang: a big deal.
But as often happens when official information is slow to come, rumours have been flying in all directions - and that's fair enough. One of the persistent ones had some form of electrification coming to the model right from launch. It now appears that won't be the case.
In fact, one of the automaker’s top executives strongly suggested that the coupe will not make its debut with a hybrid or electric powertrain. But he also didn't rule out the possibility that the company will enter the electrified sports car segment when the time is right.
"What I can tell you is I still see space for two different things. Probably, in the short term, you can still see a bit more conventional technology coming. By conventional, I mean an internal combustion engine."
- Ivan Espinosa, Nissan's Vice President of Global Product Strategy, in interview with CarAdvice
He did not reveal precisely what the next Z will get in terms of mechanics, but warned that he doesn't expect a battery-powered Z in the near-future. In his view, electric technology "is not at the level where you can deliver the performance expected in a sports car." In addition, the added weight of the battery pack remains an obstacle to overcome. Delivering consistent performance is also a challenge, but his team is learning from Nissan's Formula E program.
Whether the Z should even be electrified remains a debate in its own right. Some argue that it should adopt some form of electrification to embrace modernity, while others insist the Z must remain true to its roots. Whichever side you're on, CarAdvice believes there's another issue that prevents Nissan from electrifying the Z. The magazine speculates the next Z will be based on an evolution of the platform that underpins the current car, and this architecture was not developed with electrification in mind. Nissan, for its part, is saying nothing.
Looking further down the road, Espinoza did say he thinks we’re likely to see an electrified performance car - eventually.
"We still see space for a bit more innovation with internal combustion engines, and, in the mid-to-long term, you could start hearing that Nissan is maybe exploring a sports car with electrification."
- Ivan Espinosa
Nissan plans to release more information about the next-generation Z in the coming weeks and the model will make its global online debut before the end of 2020.