TOKYO -- Nissan's new Ariya full-electric crossover has been hampered by problems at its high-tech production line, four people familiar with the matter said, slowing delivery of a car designed to put the automaker on the road to a comeback.
Unveiled in 2020 to strong reviews, the crossover was Nissan's first all-new global car in five years and signaled an intent to turn the corner on the turmoil that followed the ouster of former head Carlos Ghosn.
But production is running at least a third below plan, keeping the Ariya from shipping to new customers, according to three of the people and production planning notes reviewed by Reuters. All of the people declined to be identified because the matter is private.
The shortfall represents a lost opportunity to capitalize on the Ariya's buzz and test demand for the first of 19 new EVs that Nissan plans to roll out by 2030. It also hinders the automaker's plans for growth in the electric-car market it helped pioneer before ceding dominance to Tesla.
Ariya production has been slowed by problems with the highly automated "intelligent factory" manufacturing system it built for the model at its plant in Tochigi, north of Tokyo, two of the people said.
Nissan designed a system that would allow it to produce cars with different powertrains - batteries, hybrids and internal combustion engines - on the same line.
Implementation has proved "an extremely, extremely high challenge" and the advanced paint line has become a persistent headache, one of the people said.
Nissan also faces shortages of plating for an electronic component for the Ariya after a fire at China-based supplier Wuxi Welnew Micro-Electronic in January, one of the people said. The supplier told Reuters it had shifted output to a second plant and was "working to recover production."
In a statement to Reuters, Nissan said Ariya production had faced challenges including supply of semiconductors, disruptions in components shipments and the factory's paint line. "Nissan is making a full and diligent effort to fully regain production capacity at the plant," the company said.