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Finally, some electrifying bit of good news for all of us pandemic-weary mortals: An electric vehicle (EV) that looks like it came straight out of a sci-fi movie is now a reality.

The Nissan Ariya SUV, a ground-breaking twin electric-motor EV crossover first hinted at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, is finally ready for production with its global online premier held this July—at the soon-to-open Nissan Pavilion in Yokohama in Japan.

This writer was one of the fortunate ones who witnessed the unveiling of the sleek spaceship-inspired Ariya. The production-bound electric SUV is touted as the first of many upcoming global EVs—including some from Infiniti, Mitsubishi, and Renault—to be built on Nissan’s global modular platform for EVs, and has a clean-slate approach that doesn’t carry over pieces of its long-time resident EV superstar Leaf.

Green Car Reports describes the Ariya as representing a “bucketload of firsts” for the brand, one of which is that the Ariya is the leading edge of a strategy that involves all-new vehicles and significant updates for most of the automaker’s vehicles in the next couple of years.

Nissan boasts that the Ariya—its first all-electric crossover SUV—offers powerful acceleration and smooth, quiet operation, as well as an interior with a welcoming, luxurious lounge-like atmosphere. Its stress-free autonomous driving features, concierge-like assistance and seamless connectivity heighten the on-road confidence and provides a welcoming environment for the driver and passengers. And with an estimated range of up to 610 kilometers (based on Japan WLTC cycle; subject to homologation) on a single charge, the Ariya is more than up to the task of meeting requirements for daily commutes and road trips.

Development Chief Product Specialist Makoto Fukuda discussed his inspirations and challenges faced with developing Ariya, which now ultimately represents the Nissan Intelligent Mobility philosophy.

“Two things make the Ariya special. First, it showcases all of the Nissan Intelligent Mobility technologies. It’s not simply the next all-new EV after the Leaf, but it is something entirely new. For example, the Ariya has innovative interior packaging that maximizes its potential and provides a very different experience for the user, thanks to platform and IT breakthroughs. We’ve introduced a new level of experience in terms of the Ariya’s technology.

“Second, the Ariya is an indicator that the automobile is evolving. When I went to motor shows when I was young I often saw exciting vehicle concepts. But when the production versions came out they looked very normal. I wondered why car companies couldn’t make the production version look as exciting as the concept. With the Ariya, we took it from (the Ariya Concept) to production virtually unchanged.”

Nissan’s program design director Giovanny Arroba, the mastermind behind the Ariya Concept, said in his Q&A about the design process that he would want to drive the Ariya on the US Pacific Coast Highway. Taking off from Arroba’s “fantasy drive”, Inquirer Motoring asked Nissan Philippines president Atsushi Najima where in the Philippines would the Ariya be best driven on.

Nissan Philippines president Atsushi Najima

“If you live in Metro Manila, it’s easy to go for short trips out of town to escape the city. One place that I truly enjoyed visiting was Tagaytay. I had the pleasure of visiting it during our Go Anywhere Patrol Drive last year. Just outside of Metro Manila, its winding roads, cool atmosphere, and scenic view makes it a wonderful place to enjoy driving an EV like the Nissan Ariya. If given the chance, I would like to experience Tagaytay again, this time with the Nissan Ariya. I am especially looking forward to seeing Taal Lake and how it has recovered, following the Taal volcano eruption last January,” he responded.

How do EVs fit in in this era of the “new normal”? Would there still be a market for EVs in the Philippines, considering that the auto industry itself is already in a slump?

Najima replied, “As the country enters into a ‘new normal’, we at Nissan are continuing to find new opportunities for growth in the country. One thing we saw was the very sharp decrease in air pollution in the country during the lockdown period, and how the public responded to that change positively. This highlights the importance of EVs in the country now more than ever. Despite the challenges that we face to recover this year, we see this as an opportunity to plan for future growth. Nissan will continue reinforcing our commitment to enriching Filipino lives by raising awareness on the benefits of electrification, and working with private and government stakeholders to create a safer, smarter, more sustainable future of mobility for the Philippines.”

Asked if Nissan Philippines Inc (NPI) would go the same route as other carmakers that have been lately peppering the market with promos and discounts, Najima said, “Following the effects of the lockdown, the automotive industry is coping in the best way they can. We recognize that, during this period, customers are more careful on how they spend their hard-earned money. We at Nissan are focused on giving our customers the best value for their money, by communicating our product superiority and its customer benefits. Through this, we want our customers to feel that they are making the right choice when choosing the Nissan brand.”

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