by Chris Van Hoven
There’s a lot of activity going on at Nissan HQ in Yokohama, Japan. A recent trip confirmed the Japanese manufacturer’s big plans not only for their upcoming models, but their plans to reshape the automotive industry with the development of their autonomous driving technology, together with new and cleaner power sources. Nissan’s three-pronged approach to their ultimate vision of zero emissions and zero fatalities sits under the umbrella of what they call Nissan Intelligent Mobility — comprised of Intelligent Driving, Intelligent Power, and Intelligent Integration.
NISSAN INTELLIGENT DRIVING
The Nissan Intelligent Driving concept is designed to increase driver confidence through improved safety, control and comfort. It’s here where all of Nissan’s efforts in lane detection, emergency braking and various other collision mitigation systems come together. More notably, it’s also here that Nissan is keenly focused on their autonomous driving technology, which they plan to fully execute by 2020. Nissan calls this technology Nissan ProPILOT, and it marks the first time that steering wheel, accelerator and brake functions are fully automated in a Japanese car. Employing advanced image-processing with high resolution cameras, ProPILOT can efficiently scan preceding vehicles and lane markers, adjusting the car’s speed and direction as needed. A large seven-inch display shows all the useful information to the driver, and everything from car-to-car distance presets and preferred speed are selected. It’s also here that the ProPILOT system can be toggled on or off, if the driver chooses manual control.
NISSAN INTELLIGENT POWER
Nissan is also constantly innovating new powertrain technologies that run on alternative fuel sources. Currently, Nissan is working on two new systems to complement their purely electric vehicles (EV), the e-Bio Fuel Cell, which runs on 100 percent ethanol; and e-POWER, which is a series hybrid drivetrain. Nissan sees several benefits to their e-Bio Fuel Cell over other electric vehicles. First, the exhaust is carbon-neutral and is as clean as the atmosphere itself. Running costs are also remarkably low, while achieving longer range than what you’d usually get from an EV. Finally, unlike EVs, cars running on the e-Bio Fuel Cell don’t need to recharge on a grid. The e-POWER system on the other hand, challenges the way conventional hybrids are designed. While the system consists of a petrol engine, the engine is used solely to charge the small battery which powers the car, and is not used to propel the car. Benefits of e-POWER include powerful acceleration (exceeding 2.0-liter turbo models), class-leading NVH levels, and unprecedented fuel economy.
NISSAN INTELLIGENT INTEGRATION
Of course, new innovations in autonomous driving and powertrains are pointless if they’re not properly integrated into society; and that’s where Nissan’s Intelligent Integration comes in. Nissan is constantly forming partnerships to improve charging infrastructures around the world. To date, over 10,500 quick chargers have been installed that can be used not only by Nissan vehicles, but other EVs as well. In Europe, Nissan and Enel (UK’s national grid) have partnered up for a trial of 100 vehicle-to-grid units in the UK. Nissan has also developed their take on Tesla’s Powerall with xStorage — a residential energy storage system together with Eaton, a global leader in power management.
As they continue to develop new innovations that lead to a more enjoyable car ownership experience, Nissan is fully committed to their vision of a zero emission, zero fatality future. And while that goal may not be reached anytime soon, it’s comforting to know that Nissan is taking this challenge seriously, with their eyes firmly set on the future.