The Nissan Ariya Almost Became the Next Murano

NEW YORK — In addition to providing thoughts on a future Xterra while at the New York International Auto Show, Nissan Americas Senior Vice President and Chief Planning Officer Ponz Pandikuthira also talked with us a bit about EVs, and more specifically model lines and nameplates. We’ve seen a few strategies ranging from almost completely new and parallel model lines (such as Hyundai’s Ioniqs and Kia’s EV#s), to reusing old names on still similarly parallel models (such as Chevy’s Equinox, Blazer and Silverado EVs), and of course blends of the two. So far, Nissan has gone with the separate model route with Leaf and Ariya, but that may not be as much the case in the future.

Pandikuthira noted that now, consumers don’t have as much interest in their EVs being some completely unique, statement piece. As such, both Nissan and Infiniti will be adding EVs to existing nameplates more so than totally new model lines. He didn’t say whether they would simply be electric variants of existing internal combustion models, or something like Chevy’s model, though. But he did note that the Nissan Ariya was, at one point, considered as a possible Murano successor.

It certainly would make sense to us. The Ariya is a distinct-looking crossover, and one with a very upscale interior, both key tenets of the Murano from that model’s introduction in the early 2000s. Plus, the Murano is in pretty dire need of a replacement, as the current generation dates back nearly a decade ago to the 2015 model year. The reason Pandikuthira gave for the Ariya decision was that the crossover represented enough of a change in Nissan’s EV technology and capabilities that the brand wanted to highlight that with a unique nameplate.

Nissan won’t be ruling out the possibility of new EV-only models, though. Just like with Ariya, Pandikuthira told us that if a planned car is unique enough, the company will still be open to a new line. But expect more, say, electric Rogues and Altimas than totally new names.

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