Nissan recently announced a new investment of more than $17 billion to help shift its business to focus on electric vehicles.

That investment centers around its plant in Sunderland in north-east England, which already makes the popular Nissan Leaf, along with a plan to build 23 new electric models by 2030.

But Nissan, like most traditional automakers, has a long way to go if it wants to catch up with Tesla. The company headed by Elon Musk is the world's largest seller of electric cars, with the Model 3 and Model Y selling about 230,000 vehicles each. quarter of a year around the world.

China's SAIC ranks second with its Wuling Hingguang Mini, the country's best-selling electric vehicle.

After that comes Volkswagen and Hyundai.

Several traditional players, who built their businesses on internal combustion engines, are now following in Musk's lead in switching to electric vehicles, but can Nissan buck this trend?

Tesla created the first serial production electric car with lithium-ion batteries in 2008 with the launch of the Sports Roadster.

It has continued to develop a range of vehicles whose range, performance and efficiency are arguably the best in the business, as evidenced by the company's explosive growth and profitability.

It stands to reason that if you've been making electric cars for the past decade, you're probably more successful in making them now.

And you'll have a lot of data on how drivers use your car, what's going wrong with it, and how to better manage your engine and battery suppliers.

Nissan has certainly invested its time, having debuted the 2011 LEAF, one of the best-selling electric cars of all time, selling half a million units over a decade.

But if there is a lesson in this sector, it is that success in making vehicles with internal combustion engines does not guarantee success in making electric vehicles.

General Motors is one of the big names that failed to catch up with the (European) electric car industry.

Failed Examples of Big Names

A famous example of the failure of major players in the traditional car manufacturing space to enter the electric vehicle market is General Motors (GM).

This company tried to enter the electric vehicle market with the Volt electric car to compete with Tesla, which was also popular until it ended in 2018.

GM also launched the Bolt in 2017, which is designed as a relatively inexpensive long-range electric vehicle.

But they have encountered battery problems that can catch fire so easily that US parking lots are preventing them from entering.

Tesla, the largest seller of electric cars, moves about 230,000 Model 3 and Model Y vehicles every 3 months (Anatolia)

Toyota was also a major player in moving the industry to greener cars with its hybrid cars in the late 1990s, but is now playing a catch-up role.

It has gone further than others by developing hydrogen-powered vehicles, but its Mirai failed to capture the market share of battery electric vehicles, selling only 316 cars in Europe in the first half of 2021.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen is the old carmaker seen most likely to catch up with Tesla's production rate of electric vehicles, possibly by 2024. The German giant is spending around €35 ​​billion on the sector.

But Volkswagen admits it takes 3 times as long as Tesla to build its flagship electric vehicles, making the capability gap starkly visible.

Nissan feature

If there's one thing we've learned from Tesla, and also from Chinese electric vehicle makers like NIO, BYD and XPeng, it's that the specially designed chassis for electric vehicles makes electric cars. better.

For example, Volvo's Polestar 2 was supposed to be a Tesla competitor, but adapting an internal combustion engine to electric wouldn't work well.

You will end up with cars with shorter range of motion with the battery, and often less interior space.

Fortunately for Nissan and its alliance partner, Renault, they already have such a dedicated electric platform.

Known as CMF-EV, it allows the group to share a number of components for different electric vehicles and maximize their manufacturing efficiency.

From Tesla's watch, the second vital factor to producing good electric cars on a large scale (and profitable) is keeping battery packs as close as possible to the final assembly plant, reducing transportation cost and time.

Once again, Nissan excels in this field, with its factory in Sunderland producing not only the Leaf but its successor, near the "megafactory" of the Envision battery that powers the Leaf.

China-owned Envision plans to produce 38 gigawatt-hours of batteries a year - enough to power half a million new cars, putting Nissan on a par with Tesla's plants in the US and China.

With its expertise in electric vehicles and efficient battery supply chains, Nissan could be the old car maker that will compete with the new giants in the field.