Nissan is debating whether or not to adopt new technology or stick with traditional power for its two iconic sports cars.
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The Nissan 370Z and Nissan GT-R could be the next iconic sports-cars to make the switch to hybrid or electric power.

The global head of product planning for Nissan, Ivan Espinosa, who oversees all future models, told international media at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show the company has “debated endlessly” about adding an electric boost to the next generation of its performance flagship models.

When asked if the next 'Zed car' could be a hybrid or even switch to pure electric power, Mr Espinosa said: “We are discussing that all the time. And I think we need to be careful.”

He said there were two main considerations.

“Is the consumer ready to get the sports car EV? We have debated endlessly about this. Because there are still some people, particularly more traditional buyers and more petrol-head customers, that are not 100 per cent there. But there is also a big, young audience that thinks completely different.”

Mr Espinosa said the second hurdle is the technology itself. “When will the technology be ready to really deliver the expected performance of a sports car? You have to carry a battery, which is carrying weight, and as everybody knows, a sports car is not only about the horsepower that you put in, but the kilos that you remove, so it’s a very careful balance.”

When pressed further on the likelihood of electric power for the Nissan 370Z and GT-R – two of the oldest models in the brand’s line-up – Mr Espinosa said: “The answers is yes, it’s one of the alternatives. Have we decided? No. Are we working on it? Absolutely.”

One thing is for certain: there will be a next-generation Nissan 370Z and Nissan GT-R.

“Of course these two cars are at the heart of Nissan, and we are actively looking at and working on them,” said Mr Espinosa. “They really represent what Nissan is about: exciting cars. So you can expect that we will come [out] with something on this some time soon. There is nothing specific to share today, unfortunately, but that doesn’t mean we’re not working on them.”

When asked if Nissan would need to partner with another car company – as Toyota and BMW have done with the Supra coupe and Z4 convertible – Mr Espinosa said: “There are no golden rules, I would say. I am particularly open (to a parternship). Of course there are some elements you should not play with as these are brand icons. There is a limit to what you can share and you can commonise.”

Mr Espinosa added: “These areas are becoming very challenging, especially with the new regulations coming and there’s many different (ways) to execute these kinds of cars that will probably force us to look outside and look at different options.”

However, he insisted, they would retain Nissan’s DNA. “These cars need to really represent what the brand is about. And we need to be very careful.”

In a separate media briefing, Nissan design chief Alfonso Albaisa said a new generation 'Zed car' was being worked on, but was coy on details.

“The Zed car is the car that democratised sports cars back in the 1960s,” he said. “Before that you had to have the money to buy a Porsche or a Jaguar. The current car has been a long time in the dealerships, so you can imagine the designers working on a successor, even if I am not going to confirm it.”