Posts Tagged ‘renault’

Nissan Updates Us On The Future Of Their Twizy-Based Mobility Concept

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Regular readers will recall an article we published a couple months ago about Nissan’s new Mobility Concept. At the time, we didn’t really get it. As far as we knew, the NMC was simply a Japan-only re-badging of the already existing Twizy. Don’t get me wrong, the Twizy is a great car and I duly noted why Nissan would want one of their own in a market like Japan. But still, I was expecting something more. In the article, I even predicted that we’d be seeing improvements from Nissan before the expected launch in 2015.

Well, earlier this week, we found out exactly what those improvements will be. Basically, Nissan confirmed that their version of Renault’s best-selling city car will address many of the car’s built-in weaknesses in order to move upmarket and eventually sell internationally. More specifically, Nissan says they want to offer drivers the agility and convenience of a motorcycle coupled with the safety and weather-resistance of a car. How do they do that? With a weather-proofed and re-styled Twizy, of course!

Looking Back to the 2008 Land Glider Concept

Nissan Land Glider concept car

The folks who broke the story at Auto News Europe made an interesting connection between the Renault Twizy and an old, easily forgotten Nissan concept from for years past, the Land Glider Concept. The car was originally shown back in 2009, and shows a clear resemblance to the one-year-old Renault Twizy.

What does this mean? Simply that Nissan has been thinking about a city car for at least four years.

Check out this video and see the Land Glider in action:

When questioned about the similarities between the Land Glider Concept and a possible Nissan Twizy-based vehicle, Etienne Henry, Nissan’s head of product strategy and planning, simply replied that, “It was a very interesting concept with very challenging and meaningful technology.” Meaningful? I bet it was, Mr. Henry.

Why Nissan May Not Have a Choice

You might think that this this is a clear act of genius on the part of Nissan. They listened to the masses, heard that the Twizy had a few select problems (such as a harsh suspension), and are now producing a perfectly amended vehicle that everyone will love. They’re moving upmarket because they can make more money that way, or because they know people will pay for their superior city car car, right?

While that very well may be the case and I’m happy to give credit where credit is due, I suspect that the terms of the Renault-Nissan alliance were the primary motivation. Basically, if Nissan wants a Twizy of their own – and they do – then their agreement prohibits them from selling at the same or lower price than the Twizy. So, they’re being smart and making the car better, hopefully enough so that moving upmarket won’t hurt sales too much on a car that’s primary selling point is affordability.

Obviously, all of this makes Nissan’s testing in Japan with the NMC a lot more sensible. You might remember that Japan’s Ministry of Transportation is going to prohibit Nissan from selling their version of the Twizy until they feel that the average driver could handle it safely. The NMC is paving the way for something better.

Even more than last time, I can say with confidence that we will see a lot more improvements between the NMC and the eventual release (hopefully in 2015) of Nissan’s own three-wheeled city car. Rest assured that you’ll get updates as soon as we do. As always, thanks for reading!

Sources: Green Car Reports, Auto News, Car Scoops, Auto Evolution

Renault-Nissan to Streamline Future Cars With Common Module Family

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

The Industrial Revolution brought factories and the production line into existence, and it didn’t take that long (in the grand scheme of things) for Henry Ford to put two and two together and start producing automobiles like clockwork. That was well over 100 years ago.

Over the past four years we’ve seen a new trend start to develop in the world of automotive manufacture… It’s Industrial Revolution 2.0: The Age of Modular. Earlier this week, Renault-Nissan unveiled their next shared project – a lego-like modular kit that will streamline the design and production of up to 14 different vehicles between the two companies over the next 7 years.

What The Common Module Family Is and Is Not

Make no mistake, the Common Module Family (CMF) is NOT a platform, it’s a kit. It’s a building-block-esque architecture that divides the car into four Big Modules (engine, cockpit, rear under-body and front under-body).

Where a platform typically refers to just the underpinning architecture of the car – steering, suspension, etc. – the Common Module Family encompasses every major part of the car. According to the Renault-Nissan Alliance press release, “A platform is a horizontal segmentation; a CMF is a cross-sector concept.”

Common Module Family

Therefore, you might think of this CMF kit as a collection of mini-platforms, or building blocks, for each major part of the car. And, these modules can be used and combined on any number of different actual platforms.

Which Cars Will Use the Common Module Family?

With the first roll-out of CMF, Renault-Nissan have plans to underpin at least 14 models primarily in the big SUV and compact car segments. However, Nissan currently only accounts for three of those nameplates – the upcoming Nissan Qashqai, the Nissan X-Trail and the Nissan Rogue. That being said, both brands plan to leverage this new modular architecture as much as possible, expanding onto several new model names beyond 2020.

This is where we see the beauty of a modular system. CMF literally gives Renault and Nissan a set of foundational building blocks that can be adjusted to construct any type of car. From heavy SUV to lightweight hatchback, all can be configured with the Common Module Family.

When Will We See CMF in Action?

While we might not see the results of CMF too quickly, behind the scenes Renault-Nissan projects that the modular system will, “generate an average 30-40% reduction in entry cost per model and 20-30% reduction in parts cost.” That’s some serious cost-savings, and should give both brands the freedom to pursue even more innovative projects and designs.

As far as actual vehicles based on CMF, the press release tells us to expect all three Nissan models by the end of the year. Our Renault fans will have to wait a bit longer though, as the first Renault vehicles built with CMF won’t hit the market until late 2014.

To finish up this blog post, let’s circle back to comparing the relative impact of modular manufacturing to production-line assembly. The more I learn about Renault-Nissan’s CMF, as well as other automakers who’ve adopted similar systems, the more I believe that modular is truly the way of the future. The cost-savings are too immense for the method not to make it into mainstream use, and I expect we’ll hear a lot more about CMF and similar systems over the next couple of years.

After all, these car makers can’t keep on reinventing the wheel every time they come up with a new model.

Sources: The Truth About Cars, Autocar, The Truth About Cars, Car Scoops, Autoblog

Nissan Terrano Reborn — As Dacia Duster Rebadge

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Earlier this week, we got the official word from Nissan that the Japanese brand will officially be releasing a rebadged version of the Dacia Duster. Nissan is apparently looking to expand its small SUV sales in India first, and possibly other markets later. Nissan’s Duster will be named after an SUV that’s been extinct from their lineup for almost 10 years – the Nissan Terrano.

Nissan Terrano

Rumors have been circulating about the new Terrano since the beginning of June. Earlier this week, Nissan finally gave in and released a complete digital rendering of the future Terrano. The Japan-ified Duster is expected to go on sale in India by the end of this year.

Terrano vs. Duster – What’s the Difference?

Oddly enough, Nissan is actually aiming more upmarket than Dacia with its Terrano, which is positioned as a premium SUV. Therefore, the differences between Nissan’s upcoming Terrano and the Dacia Duster lie primarily in the exterior design, with the Terrano having the more luxurious design of the two.

As you can see if you examine the Duster next to the Nissan Terrano rendering, there will actually be changes in the sheet metal between the two cars. For example, you can see that the lines on the front fascia of the Terrano extend from the grill all the way to the windshield, while on the Duster they round out above the headlights. You can also see differences in the side windows, the side mirrors, the wheels and wheel-wells, the headlights, the grill, and the front fender and rear bumper. So, lots of exterior changes.

Inside the Terrano, the changes are much fewer. The only expected change for the actual interior of the car will be the steering wheel, which will obviously feature a Nissan badge instead of a Dacia one. The engines are expected to be the same, or at least very similar. Likely a 1.6L petrol engine for the basic trim package with possible alternatives up the price scale.

Nissan Prices Terrano… Higher? Than Renault?

Many of you are familiar with the Renault-Nissan Alliance. This agreement has already led to rebadged hits like the Nissan Micra and Sunny. As mentioned earlier, though, for once Nissan will be aiming more upmarket in India than Dacia aims in Europe. It may seem strange, but Nissan will actually be pricing their Terrano SUV a minimum of about $1,000 above the Duster.

Why? Well, the specific terms of the French-Japanese agreement dictate that the original manufacturer always gets to sell at the lower price. So, since Nissan is rebadging a Dacia car, they have to price it higher than Renault.

Unfortunately, we don’t know much more about the Terrano. Nissan’s press release offered a statement from Kenichiro Yomura, CEO of Nissan Motor India, saying, “You can see from the sketch that Terrano has a bold and distinctive design that I’m confident will appeal to our growing customer base in India, as will its driving performance and range of other features that will be revealed at a later date.”

In other words, expect to hear more about the Terrano before the end of the year. I, for one, can’t wait to hear more, and I’m excited to see how the Japanese Duster fares in the exploding Indian market.

Sources: Car Scoops, Autocar India, Car Scoops

Nissan Carefully Approaching Launch of Mobility Concept in Suburban Japan

Posted by Stephen On Friday, April 5th, 2013

March was a great month for Nissan. The Nissan Altima sedan outsold the Toyota Camry for the first time in a year and a half, and sales across the board are up 1% since this time last year. The Nissan LEAF had a record-breaking 2,200+ sales, a massive increase over the EV’s second best month of 1,700 units back in early 2011. Nissan is also making plans to bring the LEAF to China to offer their affordable EV to yet another exploding market.

But, I don’t want to talk about any of that today. Instead, I’m going to take advantage of this between-auto-show lull and talk about a concept I’ve been aching to cover for a couple months now – the Nissan Mobility Concept.

What is the Nissan Mobility Concept?

The Nissan Mobility Concept is a four-wheel, pure electric vehicle capable of seating 1.5 people in tandem configuration. The NMC can reach speeds of 50 mph, and has a 62 mile driving range. It’s wheelbase is a mere 4 feet wide and a little under 8 feet long. The lithium ion battery can be fully charged from a regular socket in just 4 hours.

Well-read automotive enthusiasts will recognize the Nissan Mobility Concept as a very similar vehicle to the Renault Twizy, which was the best-selling EV in Europe during 2012. Currently, the biggest difference between the two EVs is the tires… The NMC even uses the same lithium ion battery as the Twizy.

So, what’s the point? Why is Nissan re-badging Renault’s Twizy?

What is Nissan’s Goal for the NMC?

Firstly, the Nissan Mobility Concept is launching in Japan, a completely different market from Renault’s Twizy. Plus, by the time the car finally launches in 2015 (estimated), we’re sure Nissan will have integrated a few other new features. At least, we hope.

Secondly, the NMC isn’t actually about the vehicle – it’s about the idea of economical and environmentally-friendly suburban transportation. Nissan has already partnered with Tokyu Corp. and Yokohama Mobility Project Zero, and their goal is to create a vehicle that integrates seamlessly with public transportation in what’s been dubbed ‘two-mode EV car sharing’, while also providing the ideal vehicle for small, local errands. It’s sort of like the Toyota i-Road in that regard, but about 2 years ahead of schedule.

In the US, this would be classified as a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle, which is actually illegal in some cities. In Europe, the Twizy is classified as a heavy quadricycle, and the slower model can be driven without a license. In Japan, the NMC would currently be classified as a kei car, but Nissan is looking to classify it as something new.

So, what’s holding the NMC back from official launch in Japan? People. A representative from the Ministy of Transport made it clear that Nissan needs to teach people how to drive these small electric cars safely.

Unfortunately, there is no mention of the NMC ever coming to the US. It seems we will be limited to the LEAF for several years yet, mostly because the regulations for these small electric vehicles are too rigid in too many states. But a guy can dream, can’t he? It looks like the NMC will be a hit when it finally does launch in Japan, just the Twizy has been in Europe.

Sources: Autoblog Green, The Truth About Cars, Wikipedia

Nissan New Mobility Concept 2-Seater EV On Yokohama Streets from October

Posted by Stephen On Friday, September 30th, 2011

Nissan is looking to aggressively expand its EV (electric vehicle) line-up beyond the eponymous Leaf. Having received permission from Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Nissan announced on September 29th that it would be starting trials of its New Mobility Concept EV on public roads starting in the area around Nissan’s HQ in Yokohama. The trial will also be extended to Aomori Prefecture (in the North) and Fukuoka Prefecture (in the South).

The Yokohama trial will be divided into two phases. The first will be from October 15th to 28th and be centered around people connected with Yokohama’s Motomachi shopping district. The second phase will be open to local residents and tourists and will be run from November 17th to 30th. Participants must be 21 and above and have had a regular passenger car license for 3 years or more. Details of the Yokohama program will be posted on the city website here from October.

Nissan’s 2-seater is ostensibly based on it’s sister company Renault’s Twizy. It is 2.34 meters in length and 1.19 meters wide. With a height of 1.45 meters, it will be big enough to carry two adults. It will have a top speed of 80 km/h and be able to travel 100 km between recharges.

Nissan New Mobility Concept electric car

The original concept showed a two-seater (but surely one of the passengers would have to be very flexible, very short or both to fit in) with no doors, so it will be interesting to see how this design has evolved when it actually hits the streets. I’m not sure I would be too happy driving this in Aomori’s snow in its original door-less form.

Nissan will be providing 7 vehicles at no cost to the city of Yokohama and is hoping to get usage data from a range of drivers, including older people and tourists, as well as researching the social needs for very small vehicles like these.

Sources: Nikkei, Car Watch, Nissan (all Japanese)

Renault, Nissan and Daimler Join Forces to Develop EV for 2014

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, September 17th, 2011

Renault, Nissan and Daimler have announced their intention to bring a jointly-devloped EV (electric vehicle) to market by 2014. The new EV venture was announced by Renault and Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn and Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche at a joint news conference at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Each partner is bringing something different to the project: Renault – Nissan will focus on engine technology, while Daimler’s focus will be the Lithium ion battery pack. Renault will base its version on the Twingo, whereas Daimler will be using the Smart model as its platform.

Daimler Renault-Nissan partnership to spawn EVs based on Smart and Twingo in 2014

This is one of the fruit of the strategic partnership that Renault – Nissan and Daimler inked back in April 2010, and which also includes development of small cars as well as shared engines.

Nissan CEO Ghosn also announced  a new small car to be based on Daimler underpinnings and to be launched in 2014 under its luxury Infiniti brand. Nissan predicts that the move to smaller luxury cars will continue and that by using Daimler’s platform, it will be able to achieve efficiency gains in the development process. It is thought that the basis of this new Infiniti model will be Damiler’s Mercedes B Class.

Source: Nikkei

Import Car Sales in Japan Up 31% in May

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

While Japanese manufacturers saw their domestic sales drop 33.4% in May 2011, sales of non-Japanese import cars rose by 7.9%, with the remaining increase of 31%  the result of greater imports of domestic Japanese brands from their overseas production facilities.

The major winners among the top 10 import car brands are as follows:

  1. Volvo – up 69.7%
  2. Renault – up 45.4%
  3. Fiat – up 40.3%
  4. Porsche – up 29%
  5. Audi – up 21.3%

(Figures are as compared with the same period in 2010.)

The numbers of cars from non-Japanese makers, as well as imports from overseas manufacturing facilities of Japanese makers has now reached an unprecedented level. For example, in April 2011 about 1 in 4 (23.5%) of regular passenger cars sold in Tokyo were of foreign origin, and this level continued the following month with the May figure reaching 21%.

One of the major factors in this increase in overall foreign-origin car imports to Japan has been Nissan’s March manufacturing base in Thailand coming online recently. May 2011 saw Nissan import 3,274 vehicles, as compared with just 4 imported in May 2011.

Although Nissan has recently made a commitment to continue large-scale production in Japan for the Japanese market, it remains to be seen how many other makers will be following their lead in establishing offshore production facilities to service Japanese consumers. As I noted in my previous blog post, premium foreign makers are also seeing an opportunity to grab market share from brands such as Lexus, which could see these marques increasingly infiltrating Japan’s new car market.

Sources: JAIA, Tokyo Shinbun (both Japanese-language)

New Renault Third Gen Megane Launched in Japan

Posted by Stephen On Friday, May 27th, 2011

Renault launched the latest version of its 5-door hatch, the Megane in Japan on May 26th. This is, apparently, the first car that Renault has designed entirely using digital processes. Two levels of trim will be sold in Japan, the Premium Line for 2.65 million Yen, and GT Line for 2.75 million Yen.

New third generation Renault Megane launched in Japan May 26th 2011

The Megane is now in its third iteration since it was launched in 1995, and has almost 1 million units sold during that 16-year history.

But you know what I want to know? How can they get away with calling a car a Renault Glasses? After all, that is what Megane spells in Japanese romanized pronunciation.

(Yes, I know Renault would like the Japanese to pronounce it meh-gah-noo, but the spelling is what it is.)

Sure, it’s not quite on the same level as selling a car called a Nova in Spanish-speaking country but , still, will someone please tell Carlos to not let this lie for another 16 years?

Source: SankeiBiz (Japanese-language)