Nissan opens it first City Hub store in Paris

Japanese car maker launches first shopping centre-based immersive experience store as part of ambition to sell one million electrified vehicles a year by 2022...

Nissan City Hub

Nissan has opened its first City Hub in the Velizy 2 shopping centre in the outskirts of Paris. The store is described as a bustling destination with 88 square metres of screens and non-sales staff to help people explore the models.

Unusually for a shopping mall store, the City Hub has the capacity to let customers take test drives without pre-booking; it has five vehicle handover spots and a fleet consisting of the Micra, Leaf and Qashqai.

Nissan City Hub

The City Hub is described as the first step in creating a new Nissan customer experience for European car buyers. It is a tech-laden showcase for the cars and their technology.

“We’ve created a seamless online and offline buying experience because customer habits have changed vastly over the past 10 years. Already, more than 50% of car purchases start online, and by 2040 65% of the world’s population will live in connected cities. And we predict that in the future, 25% of cars will be bought online,” said Leon Dorssers, corporate vice-president of the Nissan Motor Company.

One reason for choosing the Velizy 2 shopping centre is that 50 million people a year pass through its hallways. Like other shopping centre-based car stores that already exist in the UK, there’s no hard sell at the City Hub; customers are greeted by 'Nissan intelligent mobility ambassadors' who’ve been recruited from diverse backgrounds, such as the creative arts, music and new technologies.

Nissan Leaf

“Surveys suggest that some people view visiting a car showroom as the second-worst experience after going to the dentist,” said Nissan Europe chairman Gianluca de Ficchy. “Our ambassadors offer a different buying experience that’s hassle-free.”

Rather than cutting out the dealer network, the store is underpinned by local Nissan dealer chain Group Altair, which supplies cars and servicing. However, customers can choose where they have their new car delivered: to a car showroom, the shopping centre or to their home, with delivery times estimated at five to 10 days. 

Later in 2019, the store will be expanded so that consumers can find out about Nissan’s xStorage Home system, an energy storage facility that uses either new or secondhand Nissan EV batteries. This intelligent system can put electricity back into the grid at peak usage times, such as early evening, and then take it back out to charge the car’s batteries in the early hours of the morning when demand is low and energy is cheaper to buy.

This is all part of the Nissan Intelligent Mobility plan, which includes Nissan’s ambition that one million (43%) of the new vehicles it sells will be electrified by 2022.

As well as pure electric vehicles, Nissan intends to bring its ePower technology to Europe in the next few years. This is a new type of hybrid powertrain that uses a small petrol engine like a generator to charge up an electric car’s batteries.

Nissan ePower

The difference between this and other hybrids is that it provides a driving experience similar to that of a pure EV, with all the power available the moment you press the accelerator.

Although there’s no word of when the UK will get its first City Hub, Nissan is talking about taking the concept to similar cities, such as Berlin, Tokyo and Shanghai.

Best and worst electric vehicles

Electric cars are becoming more mainstream by the day, and this trend is only going to accelerate as rules are introduced to limit the kind of vehicles allowed into major cities.

The main thing holding electric cars back remains range anxiety – the fear that you won’t have enough juice to get to where you’re going. However, with more and more electric cars capable of covering more than 200 miles between charges, this is becoming less of an issue.

An electric car also makes sense because it’s cheap to run and ideal for short journeys, such as the school run, trips to the shops or a brief commute.

So, which electric cars should you consider? Here, we count down our favourites and tell you the ones to avoid.

And, remember, before you start shopping for your new car, take a look at our New Car Buying deals to see how much we could save you on your next car.

10. Hyundai Ioniq

New Hyundai Ioniq vs Toyota Prius

The Ioniq is really three cars in one; it's available as a conventional hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and as a fully electric car. The EV version we're including here has a range of 174 miles and enough torque to make acceleration feel brisk around town. The interior is nice, too, and our recommended Premium models get sat-nav and heated front seats as standard.

Even though it’s six years old now, it still looks incredibly futuristic outside, plus its smart interior makes the i3 one of the most appealing electric cars on sale today. Its groundbreaking use of super-light carbonfibre and aluminium offset the weight of the heavy battery pack that’s mounted beneath its floor, and a recent facelift means it’s better to drive than ever.

The latest changes to the i3 are so new that we haven’t yet put it through our Real Range test yet – but BMW reckons that it’ll manage around 160 miles on a full charge in real-world conditions.

Read our full BMW i3 review, see our latest deals or see our leasing offers

8. Tesla Model X

On paper, Tesla's all-electric luxury SUV seems to be the dream combination, offering the plushness of a Range Rover Sport with the green credentials of an electric car. In practice, its low running costs and practical interior are hard to fault, and even the entry-level 75D versions aren't short on pace, but parts of its interior do look a little low-rent.

Read our full Tesla Model X review and see our latest deals

Next: more of our favourite electric vehicles >

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