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Japan’s Nissan Motor Co Ltd on Tuesday unveiled a new electric sport-utility vehicle (SUV) at the Shanghai auto show as it highlighted its commitment to the Chinese market. “We are bringing more electrified models, such as Ariya, e-Power Sylphy and e-Power X-Trail.

We are also planning to launch an EV designed specifically for the Chinese market,“ said Ashwani Gupta, Nissan’s chief operating officer, speaking at the show.

China has long been a key market for Nissan, but like other global automakers, it faces increasing pressure and the threat of declining market share from the rise of home-grown auto companies.

Gupta said the new vehicle, called the Arizon, will offer a virtual personal assistant, dubbed Eporo, and feature a low centre of gravity while lacking structural pillars, a move the company says enhances the car’s spacious interior.

“Going forward, software-defined vehicles will continue to redefine (vehicles) … making cars a more and more integrated part of our digital lifestyle,” Gupta said.

Once a pioneer in the global electric vehicle (EV) market with the Leaf, Nissan has long since ceded dominance to Tesla Inc and has struggled in China against BYD, the country’s biggest EV player.

Nissan’s latest electric offering, the Ariya crossover, has been hampered by problems at its high-tech production line, Reuters reported last month, slowing delivery of a car that was designed to put the Japanese automaker on the road to a comeback.

Ghandhara Nissan shuts plant till March 10 due to ‘insufficient inventory levels’

The Ariya is supposed to be the first of 19 new battery EVs that Nissan has said it plans to roll out by 2030.

S&P Global Ratings recently cut Nissan’s debt rating to junk status, saying margins and sales volumes were unlikely to improve as quickly as previously expected.

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