The Nissan Ariya is the latest upcoming all-electric model from Nissan, built as an electric SUV crossover model to compete with the likes of the Chevy Bolt, Volkswagen ID.4, and many others cropping up in this increasingly competitive segment. As we await for the official release and launch of the Nissan Ariya, which is coming in fall 2022, many have questions in particular about how well this new Nissan will work in cold weather.
Cold and wintry conditions have long been a point of concern for EV (Electric Vehicle) owners and drivers alike. Experts, commentators, and EV owners have all warned about how the cold can diminish range and could therefore severely impact people’s daily driving needs depending on their car’s max or available range.
OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) have been responding with improved and more resilient battery technology, as well as improvements to the environmental controls and interior features to ensure that winter doesn’t bring any severe woes to the driving experience.
Nissan is no exception to this, so in today’s blog we’ll be looking at all the available information on the new Ariya and seeing how well it’s expected to fare in winter conditions.
Background: Nissan Ariya Battery and Range
Buyers in the US market are anticipating the arrival of the Nissan Ariya in fall 2022. It’ll be released in 4 trim levels:
- Nissan Ariya Venture+ Range: 304 miles From $45,950
- Nissan Ariya Evolve+ Range: 289 miles From $48,950
- Nissan Ariya Premiere Range: 289 miles From $53,450
- Nissan Ariya Platinum+ Range: 265 miles From $58,950
Known interior features include two 12.3-inch displays for the instrument cluster and infotainment screens, standard preheating/precooling via the smartphone app, remote park and a summon feature similar to Tesla’s “Smart Summon” feature, Nissan’s ProPilot semi-autonomous driving technology, and more.
As a crossover SUV, the Ariya should offer a larger option than the Nissan Leaf, while also offering more range across the entire selection. The latest Nissan Leaf models only offer up to 226 miles of range on the best Leaf Plus models. The Ariya will get from 0 to 60-mph in 7.2 seconds, and have a maximum power output of 389-hp (Platinum+ trim).
Winter Testing: Hokkaido, Japan
Back in April 2021, it was reported on autoweek.com that Nissan were doing last-minute winter testing on the Ariya in Japan’s coldest region, Hokkaido island, located in the far north of the country. In fact, thanks to the lingering effects of COVID-19 and the subsequent chip and component shortage, the release of the Ariya had to be pushed back anyway, so the testing turned out not to be quite so last-minute.
Nissan’s chief vehicle assessment specialists took the production-ready Ariya to the Hokkaido Proving Ground to test the car in cold weather. Hokkaido is fairly renowned as a testing ground owing to the many styles of roads and climatic conditions the area has and experiences. The Ariya was found to cope very well under tough testing, showing that winter conditions wouldn’t just have a minimal impact on battery, but also on comfort, performance and driving dynamics.
Following on from the Hokkaido proving grounds, Nissan has taken further steps to try and prove the prowess of the Nissan Ariya in all weather and environmental conditions by announcing in May 2022 that they would be collaborating with British adventurer Chris Ramsey, who will take a specially modified Nissan Ariya from pole to pole, Antarctica to the Arctic.
The journey will involve Ramsey and his Ariya driving through 14 countries, and covering some 17,000 miles along the way. He’ll have to deal with ice, glaciers, mountains, forests, and deserts. If people wonder how the Ariya will fare in the cold, this trip will certainly show them. In fairness, it won’t be a regular production Ariya, as we’ve mentioned.
Ramsey’s Ariya will be kitted out with off-road tires, special body modifications, and rally-grade long-travel suspension. Underneath the upgrades will be the AWD version of the Nissan Ariya, with a single-charge range of 265 miles. That means it’ll need about 70 charging stops along the way.
The bad news is that Ramsey’s expedition isn’t due to set off until March 2023, so there’s some waiting to be done for those who just want to see exactly what the Ariya is capable of before opting to buy one for themselves.
How Will the Ariya Perform in Winter?
The Ariya will offer drivers up to 87-kWh of usable battery capacity, which is more than that of the latest Nissan Leaf models. However, the car’s larger status means that even with all that extra capacity, range isn’t necessarily expanded as vastly as one might imagine. According to Nissan’s numbers, all versions of the Nissan Ariya will go further than the longest-range Nissan Leaf model, but the Ariya still falls short of competitors like the Tesla Model Y Long Range, which offers up to 318 miles of range.
According to ev-database.org, the Nissan Ariya is expected to maintain its range almost fully when being used in the city. If heading out onto the highway, however, the average range is estimated to be cut to as low as 315-km (195 miles), and the combined city-highway cold weather range is estimated at 375-km (233 miles).
Depending on which specific trim level of the Nissan Ariya you bought, the impact would be more meaningful.
Maximum range drops as you climb higher on the trim level ladder, so those buying the base-level model will fare better in cold weather when it comes to range than those who have spent more on the top trim levels like the Ariya Platinum+.
That may sound backwards to some, but that’s all according to Nissan’s own numbers.
Fortunately, Nissan has loaded the Ariya with the most cutting-edge comfort and convenience technology that will help to combat the negative effects of the cold against the battery. First of all, drivers can use their Nissan smartphone app to precondition the vehicle by heating the cabin and battery while it’s parked and even while it’s charging.
Doing this while it’s charging means that the car gets the battery back to an ideal ambient temperature before it starts drawing power from it, which allows for more range to be maintained even when frigidly cold outside temperatures are bashing at the door.
The 2019 Ariya concept model showed that drivers would be able to sync their car to their daily schedule, so they won’t need to remember to set the car preheating every day. If they leave work at 5pm, for instance, the car will preheat in anticipation of this so it’ll always be ready for you.
Not a lot is known currently about specific anti-cold and anti-freezing protections Nissan have included on the Ariya. We do know from the Nissan website that the Ariya will be liquid-cooled, and it’ll feature an active thermal management system. This will work constantly to keep the battery’s operating temperature at the best-possible temperature, even when plugged into a heat-inducing fast charger.
It therefore seems as though Nissan have taken the problem of cold weather very seriously as they anticipate strong sales for the Ariya in North America, and Europe, both of which feature regions with long, cold winters, as well as high-elevation mountainous communities and regions.