NISSAN UNDECIDED ON ESFLOW EV
Would a halo sports model help shift EV perceptions?
That all-electric aspect is a bit of a red flag for PHers, perhaps, so let's start by imagining this compact rear-wheel drive coupe powered by a proper combustion engine instead. (We'll puncture that balloon for you shortly.) The Esflow is smaller than the 370Z so, while a V6 seems unlikely, a fizzing turbo four might fit.
Would you want one now? Because in the metal and carbon fibre - the concept is an aluminium frame with composite panels - the Esflow is certainly attention grabbing. We're not sure it's quite 'stunning', but what's most interesting is just how outlandish it's not.
According to Monsieur Bancon, we will see similar details on sporting Nissans soon. But the Esflow looks almost ready to roll straight off the factory line. The interior, though outfitted with metal fixtures and carbon fibre mouldings, isn't by any means wacky, while the exterior has proper bumper joins and door shuts.
So why, then, does the Esflow look so... real?
Because Nissan wanted 'absolute credibility on the execution'. The idea for an all-electric sports car has been around since 2005 when CEO Carlos Ghosn gave Nissan's EV strategy the green light. 'Innovation for excitement' is (genuinely) the company motto, and while this can't possibly justify the Micra, Francois says Nissan could build the Esflow 'tomorrow'.
The concept itself - which can apparently move under its own voltage - is powered by a single motor but the twin set up is not only technically feasible, with the right control systems it might even provide profound agility without necessarily doubling the energy consumption. The theoretical 150-mile range is further than the single motor Leaf's official 110-mile capability, yet with a potential 216bhp and 406lb ft the Esflow's ambition is 62mph from standstill in less than 5.0 seconds.
It could also be affordable. Nissan's target price is 25-30,000 Euros (£25k max) because such a car would have to be accessible. Here, the exotic materials low weight demands aren't so much an issue (this innovation is coming across the car industry within years anyway) as the potential sales volumes. How many 'Daniels' are there in the world? (The cheesy chappie from the original press release dreamed up by Nissan's customer profiling programme.)
But while a small urban EV makes more financial sense than a sports car, a production Esflow could be rationalised as a sexy 'halo' model for electric tech.
The impression we get from Francois is that Nissan is undecided. The Esflow is officially just a concept, but it is going to Geneva with solemn intent - if enough people make enough fuss it might influence the company's priorities.
If nothing else, Nissan's concept implies that you won't need a Tesla-sized budget to have fun in an electric car in future. Sadly though, in spite of its finished appearance, it takes us no closer to understanding what that form of 'fun' may actually feel like.
Words and pics by CJ Hubbard