UPDATE: Nissan contacted Motor1.com with this official statement to provide further clarification.
“Nissan works within the Alliance partnerships for collaborative efforts for our performance cars as well as NISMO, Nissan’s in-house tuning and performance division. We have had some recent collaborations with outside companies as evidenced by the GT-R50 by Italdesign and the 50th Anniversary 370Z, which was also a collaborative effort with Brock Racing Enterprises (BRE). Right now we have nothing new to share on the horizon in terms of partnerships or collaborations but never say never and we are always open to exploring new ways to bring excitement to our performance cars.”
"We collaborate with the [Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi] Alliance all the time… it’s built in," said Natalie Roe, Nissan's chief marketing manager in North America in an interview with Motor1.com. It's one thing to work within an established alliance versus a one-off project, but beyond that Nissan seems intent to keep things in the family.
"It’s in the Nissan DNA and its heritage to keep everything in house,” chimed spokesperson Kyle Torrens.
It seems to buck the notion that automakers, particularly of the Japanese kind, need to partner with another car company to produce a niche performance vehicle. Such examples include Toyota and Subaru to achieve the 86/BRZ twins, Mazda and FCA to launch the Miata and Fiat 124 Spider. Most recently, Toyota hooked up with BMW on the all-new Supra, to admittedly mixed responses from Supra fans. And while it’s not sports car-related, Honda has signed a memorandum with General Motors to develop hydrogen fuel cell technology.
Gallery: 2020 Nissan 370Z 50th Anniversary
Nissan’s past, present, and future was on full display during the 2019 New York Auto Show. Along with the debuts of both the Nissan 370Z and Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary Editions came historic icons such as the #12 Calsonic GT-R from the early 1990s, the Skyline 2000GT-R Racing Concept from the early 1970s, and others. Not far away on a turntable was Nissan’s Formula E racing car, as well as the fully electric NISMO Leaf RC 2.0 Concept.
As for the future of electrification at the company, Roe admits that Nissan performance enthusiasts open to electrification are mixed.
"I think you have both, a 'purist' and an 'EV' [performance car]. I don’t think we’re going to completely get away from the internal combustion engine, at least for a while."
Vehicles such as the NISMO Leaf RC 2.0 concept and Nissan’s Formula E race car are examples of what the future could be like with an electric punch, if everybody bought into it. But there’s little that can be done to sway the mind of a purist.
"You still have a [very large] group of individuals and that’s what they want," explained Roe. "And they still want manual transmissions. And if you want to keep them, you have to figure out ways to make that happen."