Tony O'Kane | Apr 14, 2016

Nissan could expand its range of all-electric vehicles to include a sports car and a crossover, according to the Japanese automaker’s senior vice president Shiro Nakamura.

Speaking to UK site Auto Express, Nakamura said Nissan doesn't intend to halt its electric vehicle efforts with the Leaf small hatch, which after six years of production is now approaching the end of its lifespan.

And while Nissan can currently lay claim to having sold the greatest number of electric cars so far, last year Tesla sold more Model S and Model X cars than Nissan sold Leafs (50,300 cars against 43,000).

2011 Nissan Esflow Concept
2011 Nissan Esflow Concept

Without new product, Nissan could lose its position of EV dominance - and Tesla isn't the only threat to that either. General Motors has high sales aspirations for its Chevrolet Bolt EV, and the Volkswagen Group will wheel out a multitude of new EVs before the end of the decade.

"We want to grow the portfolio," Nakamura said to Auto Express, "that’s our next plan."

"It could be a crossover, it could be a sports car... we see much more opportunity for EVs than just a hatchback."

If the idea of an electric sportscar from Nissan sounds unusual to you, it shouldn't. The Japanese automaker has flirted with the idea since 2011, when it debuted the 370Z-like Esflow concept (pictured).

The Esflow, however, was pretty far from being a production reality. Built around an aluminium/composite bodyshell with an electric motor powering the rear wheels, the Esflow sported a claimed 0-100km/h time of less than five seconds and a driving range of over 240km.

It would have cost a bomb to manufacture. A more realistic solution - and one that's crucial to Nissan's EV plans - is the arrival of a new modular platform, one that Nakamura says will be scalable enough to conform to whatever vehicle Nissan wishes to put under it.

It would also, unlike other EV platforms like Volkswagen's MEB, be able to fit conventional powertrains as well as electric motors.

However it appears engineering work on that platform is still far from complete. Nakamura says it will be "maybe five years" until we see Nissan's next electric car make its debut in production form, and precisely which form it will take - whether Leaf-replacing hatchback, an Esflow-style sportscar or something else entirely - remains to be seen.

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