What does future hold for UAE's beloved Nissan Patrol under switch to electric cars?

Motorists have spoken of the sturdy SUV’s long-standing popularity in the Emirates as Nissan gradually shifts to electric vehicles

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It is the motoring juggernaut that has reigned supreme as the Middle East’s king of the road for decades.

But the days of the mighty Nissan Patrol - at least as we know it - could well be numbered as the Japanese car maker prepares to take its exit from the petrol game and go all electric.

Japanese newspaper Nikkei broke the news this week that the car giant would stop producing new internal combustion engines in all major markets, except the US, where limited production is expected to be focused on pick-ups.

No timeframe was provided as to when Nissan would make the transition, but it makes for an uncertain future for the high-powered Patrol.

Emirati motorists on Tuesday paid tribute to the vehicle, but said protecting the environment was vital.

‘I was the happiest man in the world’

Ali Al Salami, 29, bought his first car as soon as he graduated from university in 2012 – a 1991 Nissan Patrol.

“I was so excited. I’ve always been in love with this car. I tuned it and fixed it and the first time I drove it, I felt like the happiest man in the world. It is such a beautiful car.”

In 2016, he passed on the precious Patrol to his older brother.

“I gave him the car because I knew how much he loved the old model and I’m happy as long as it remains in the family. We would never part with it,” he said.

Ahmed Salem, 43, pondered whether an electrically powered car would be able to handle the rugged desert terrain mastered by the SUV.

“We use our Nissans in the desert, so will an electric car be able to handle the sand?” he said.

His father, Salem Obaid, is in favour of supporting sustainability, but was keen to find out if electric vehicles would be durable enough for long trips.

“To me, this is a family car that is large enough for the grandkids and to go long distances,” he said.

“If an electric car can handle long trips to places like Oman and Saudi Arabia, then I think it is better. It is better for the environment.”

Haitham Al Naqbi, 39, is a firm fan of the Patrol but can also see the benefits of switching to electric cars.

“With the high costs of petrol, this is a great move that will both be cheaper and good for the environment,” he said.

“But we do like our Nissans because they are powerful, fast and durable cars. Will an electric engine have the same power?”

The Nissan Patrol is firmly entrenched in the culture of the region.

In December, it celebrated its 70th birthday with a lavish event at Expo 2020 Dubai.

From UAE royals to residents on the daily commute, it has remained the car of choice for generations.

Nissan’s strategy is in line with international efforts to cut emissions and combat climate change.

The company, which pioneered EV technology with the Leaf, has already halted manufacturing petrol engines for sale in Europe.

Industry media has already reported that the behemoth’s V8 is set to be downsized to a twin-turbo V6.

In November, Nissan said it would spend ¥2 trillion ($17.32 billion) over five years to boost its vehicle electrification projects.

It plans to launch 23 new EVs – including petrol-electric hybrids – in the next eight years. Almost half of Nissan’s vehicles will be electrified by 2030, the company said.

Ashwani Gupta, chief operating officer of Nissan, addressed the electrification drive during a conference to announce the company’s latest financial results.

He said production of internal combustion engines would cease in Europe when Euro 7 emission standards rules come into force.

This could occur as soon as 2025, but the production of such engines would continue in markets in which there remained customer demand, such as the US, he said.

The UAE aims to hit net-zero emissions by 2050, through a renewable energy investment worth Dh600 billion ($163.37bn) within three decades.

Nissan has been contacted for comment.

Updated: February 09, 2022, 3:00 AM