Posts Tagged ‘tesla’

Nissan Aiming To Lead The Autonomous Car Race

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

Elon Musk claims that Tesla is in the process of making an autonomous vehicle and that they will be out with one long before the competition. Carlos Ghosn, the big boss at Renault-Nissan, disagreed. In fact, his response to Tesla’s claims was said to be “scathing.”

nissan-logo

Nissan seems to think that the earliest form of a self-driving vehicle will be in the market is 2020. Furthermore, Nissan claims to be in the process of making that happen.

Tesla says that self-driving vehicles will be on the market in as little as 24 to 36 months. In fact, Tesla claims that one of his company’s vehicles is set to drive across the United States within that timeframe. Ghosn wouldn’t budge on the matter – he says that true autonomy is still years away. Of course, it could be all down to semantics. Musk is known for his hyperbole, and Ghosn for his steely pragmatism.

At the preshow reception of the Detroit Auto Show, Ghosn tells journalists to “judge what’s already on the market.” What’s interesting is how stubbornly Ghosn insists that autonomous cars are still four years away.

What Is an Autonomous Car?

He asks people about the definition of an autonomous car. Does it mean that it can merely switch lanes? If that’s the case, then those vehicles are already here. However, when it comes to inner-city driving with complicated situations such as crosswalks, true autonomy is not here yet. He finished his speech by saying that consumers want to do more than just buy a car – they also want to drive it.

He says that even if we have the technology, road regulations still require drivers to have two hands on the wheel with their eyes on the road. The very idea of autonomy means that you can be preoccupied with something else – activities that do not include driving.

Autonomy Is a Revolutionary and Novel Idea

Ghosn does say this about self-driving cars. Autonomous cars are a revolutionary and novel idea because it will allow freedom of movement by the older generation. He says this technology will allow people to get around, despite any possible disability – including old age. Many people of the older generation stop driving because they lose the ability to drive. He says autonomous cars can provide a solution. On top of that, he says that the planet’s population is getting older, making autonomous cars not just a luxury, but a necessity. People who are 80 or 90 years old will be able to get around independently with an autonomous car.

While many people echo Ghosn’s comments, they also believe that truly autonomous cars will not be on the market until at least 2025 due to the complexities of an urban environment.


Infiniti’s Luxury EV Facing “Not Significant” Delays

Posted by Stephen On Friday, July 19th, 2013

Okay, okay, maybe “plans” isn’t the right word here. At least, we can safely assume that Carlos Ghosn didn’t WANT to postpone the release of the Leaf-based Infiniti LE, but such is life. With no major updates planned for the Nissan Leaf in 2014, it’s looking like next year might be the first uneventful 365 days for Nissan’s all-electric game-plan in several years.

For those of you who need a refresher course, Infiniti first debuted the LE concept last year at the 2012 New York Motor Show. We saw the concept again earlier this year, this time with the extra detail that in no way, shape, or form would the Infiniti LE ever be released without wireless induction charging. In other words, Ghosn (rightly) feels that a luxury EV should be hands-free and devoid of the normal hassle of charging.

The Infiniti EV was originally scheduled for a 2015 model year, however, earlier this week Andy Palmer told Autonews Europe that there would be some “not significant” delays. Palmer, who is Nissan’s head of global planning, emphasized that this delay is NOT in any way indicative of a decreased interest in electric vehicles, or in delivering those vehicles to luxury drivers. Instead, he cites that, “There are some interesting advances in electric technology we hadn’t anticipated when we showed the LE, which, by delaying a little bit, we can incorporate into the car.”

Furthermore, Palmer hinted that Ghosn and co. had expected a more dominant induction charging system to emerge from the many competing technologies. But, as of right now, they’re still scrambling.

Or could it be that Tesla’s Model S is already well ahead of where Infiniti want to be and their supercharging system could also make their induction charger look old hat before it’s even out of the development stage.

On the other hand, the delay isn’t all bad. In addition to solidifying the use of induction technology, Infiniti also plans to use the extra time to incorporate several new technologies into the Infiniti LE. In fact, Palmer went so far as to state that upcoming developments in lithium ion batteries alone would justify the delay; apparently these improved batteries will allow significant savings while simultaneously increasing driving range and battery capacity. In addition, Infiniti may take this time to incorporate things like water-cooling into their powertrain, which would make the aforementioned improved batteries last longer and perform better.

Even though the Infiniti LE and Nissan Leaf may take a backseat during 2014, that doesn’t mean Nissan won’t be doing anything interesting.

For one, Ghosn will still maintain his goal of 1.5 million EVs by 2015, and Nissan Leafs will continue to sell extremely well. In fact, right now Leafs are selling faster than Nissan can make them.

For two, Nissan has at least one arguably more interesting car coming next year in the form of the new Nissan GT-R, which is getting tweaked, tuned and hybridized. And we haven’t even touched on the next-gen Nissan Rogue or the upcoming Pathfinder Hybrid (although we covered the latter during the 2013 New York Motor Show).

Well, there you have it – consider yourself updated and in-the-know about Nissan’s all-electric plans. If you have anything you’d like to add, feel free to chime in below. Otherwise, thanks for reading and stay tuned for more Japanese car-related news coming soon.

Source: Car Scoops


Infiniti’s Own EV Gets a Prerequisite Disclaimer: Induction Charging

Posted by Stephen On Sunday, May 26th, 2013

The Nissan Leaf has been picking up steam for the past six months. CEO Carlos Ghosn continues to maintain an optimistic stance towards the eventual dominance of EVs. Therefore, it was no surprise when Infiniti showed us the Infiniti LE – a luxury sedan version of the Nissan Leaf – at the New York Auto Show last year. What’s more surprising is the news that Infiniti’s Executive Vice President, Andy Palmer, revealed earlier this week: production of an Infiniti EV hinges on the accessibility of induction charging.

Induction charging, which is when an electromagnetic field is used to wirelessly transfer energy between two objects, is currently more available than you might believe. It’s just not present in the automotive industry. Think of all of the wireless charging pads for things like smartphones and video game controllers. The technology is there, it just needs to be magnified to bigger scale. Carscoops reports that there are induction experiments being performed around the world on anything from a quad-bike to a city bus, so it may not be far off.

Still, however far off widespread induction charging is, that’s how long we’ll have to wait for the Infiniti LE Concept to become reality. For Infiniti, there is no such thing as a luxury wired EV. Palmer explains, “The whole concept of not having to couple up cables to a plug socket, dragging them on the ground and on you as you go, is in keeping with luxury motoring.” In other words, no luxury car driver in his right mind would EVER want to deal with the hassle of manually charging an electric vehicle, which seems a bit silly when:

– The Tesla Model S is incredibly successful and relies on wired recharging.
– Even Bugatti owners are quite happy to put a petrol nozzle in their fuel filler cap to, so what’s the big deal about having to plug a car in?

More important than the development of induction charging, though, is the acceptance of induction charging. If the technology is not widespread, then it defeats the purpose. Palmer reiterates, “There is no world standard on methods, the roll-out will be dependent on region.” This would explain why Infiniti is so gung-ho about open source research when it comes to induction technology. They’d like the auto industry to collectively develop a solution to accelerate its acceptance across the globe.

Whether or not Infiniti ever gets to produce the LE Concept, I don’t actually think it’ll have a big impact on Nissan’s EV-related goals. The bulk of their sales will still be Leafs. But, I don’t blame them for trying to get more mileage out of their hard-earned Leaf architecture, which is what would be used in any Infiniti offspring.

Do you think that induction charging would make a difference in the acceptance of EVs as a whole? Or is this something that will only ever matter for luxury brands?

Or do you think that Infiniti is just scrabbling around for an excuse to avoid going head-to-head with Tesla?

Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

Sources: Autocar, Carscoops


Survey of International Drivers About EVs Reveals Surprises

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, September 17th, 2011

An international survey conducted by TÜV Rheinland shows that Toyota is the brand that consumers would be most likely to buy an EV from. Drivers in 12 important world markets were surveyed, representing both established European and North American markets, as well as emerging markets such as China and India.

When asked to name the company that came to mind when they heard the word EV, Toyota was by far the most popular response. 34% then said that if they were going to buy an EV, they would choose a Toyota, with 17.2% opting for Honda, 15.9% for VW and 14.6% for Nissan.

Of course, the irony of this is that of these top four, it is Nissan that is most aggressively developing and marketing EVs. If you are talking about next-generation vehicles, then it would be fair to say that Toyota has been more focused on gasoline hybrids, Honda on hydrogen fuel cells and VW on hybrid diesels. Perhaps Nissan needs to change its ad agency?

Of course, the results varied somewhat by country, with Germans putting VW at the top, and the French choosing Renault. But the interesting thing is that in both of these markets, it is Toyota that is sitting there in second place, indicating a consistent level of association between the Toyota brand and EVs across the board.

Tesla will probably want to disagree with this next result, but when asked which country was most advanced in EV development, the majority of respondents chose Japan (57%), followed by Germany (42%).

When asked about how to support the introduction of electric vehicles, most drivers asked responded that direct assistance to reduce the purchase price was top. This was followed by financial incentives to assist EV development, and then by tax incentives.

Of course, a major issue with any form of transportation is where we get the energy that powers it. In this regard there was strong general agreement internationally on the need to use renewable energy resources to generate electricity to power EVs.

Despite the green image of EVs, only German drivers said that they would get an EV for environmental reasons alone. Respondents in most other countries ranked this factor alongside the issue of cost.

On the flip side, limitations on driving range was the factor that was most likely to cause these consumers in Germany, France and the China to be hesitant in purchasing an EV. In Japan, the US, Portugal, Israel, Spain and Italy, price was the key factor in reluctance to purchase. Finally, in the UK and India most concern was about the lack of recharging stations (perhaps inflated by Top Gear’s recent shenanigans in Lincoln). Only in India was there significant concern about safety, but again this may be due to local sentiment in India caused by issues with the (ICE) Tata Nano.

Drivers most favorably disposed to EVs were in China, India and Italy. These drivers tended to list reasons such as concern for the environment, knowledge about EVs, and the fact that EVs tended to match their driving habits. The UK, Germany, Spain and France had drivers that were moderately well-disposed towards EVs. On the one hand, these drivers felt they had a moderate amount of information about EVs, but on the flip side the lack of relative importance given to environmental concerns stood out.

This interesting result puts paid to the stereotype that consumers in the emerging markets of China and India are most concerned with gaining mobility whereas it is the European and US consumers who have more cash to spare and therefore can afford the “luxury” of environmental concern.

In Portugal, the US and Israel, the survey found drivers relatively antagonistic to EVs. The primary reasons given were a lack of concern about the environment, as well as worries about safety. The relatively negative stance of drivers in Israel is particularly ironic for Project Better Place, whose Israeli founder has been pushing EV use in his homeland.

And the drivers who are most antagonistic to EVs? Well, they are in Japan (that has 3 of the top 4 car makers most associated with EVs) and Denmark (usually seen as a leader in clean energy and environmental concern). Interestingly, driver respondents in these countries listed EVs not matching their driving style, safety concerns and lower environmental awareness as the reasons why they are not interested in EVs.

I am not so familiar with Denmark, but I have to say that the Japanese drivers’ responses are somewhat surprising. First of all, Japan is a small country and most car journeys are relatively short (which is why the Japanese run up such a low annual mileage), so personally I would have thought that the stop-start urban driving that most Japanese do would be ideal for an EV.

On the other hand, the recent accident at the Fukushima nuclear facility, and the continuing power use restrictions imposed since its shut down must surely have turned some people off to the idea of electrically powered cars. If the US driver is concerned about the security (and human cost) of Middle East oil, the Japanese driver is now more worried about the safety of generating electricity using nuclear power.

Source: Response (Japanese)


Toyota iQ Electric Car Coming in 2012

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Toyota has been rather lukewarm about EVs, despite its tie up with Tesla Motors (with whom it is developing an electric version of the RAV4) in the US. On the other hand, it does not want to allow Nissan and Mitsubishi to leapfrog into the technology driving seat by ignoring electric vehicles completely. It only has to look at its own positioning as the de facto king of the hybrid market to realize that these technologies take a while to catch on, but that if they do the rewards to be reaped are enormous.

So, Toyota is taking a tentative step into commercial EV sales with the introduction of the electric iQ in 2012. The iQ is already designed as a frugal city car, so turning this into an electric vehicle makes a lot of sense. The problem with a city car of small dimensions is that there is already enough competition for space, so what happens when you add a battery pack to the equation? Toyota has solved this with the new flat battery pack from the plug in Prius which slots neatly under the floor, thus allowing the passenger compartment to be unimpeded with additional intrusions. The iQ is a marvel of packaging, so what you have here is a frugal, zero-emissions city car with a larger car feel.

Following Mitsubishi’s lead with the i-MiEV, Toyota is planning to start with fleet sales and then move into the consumer market after the initial teething issues have been ironed out there. Its smaller size should no doubt result in a lower retail price than competitors like the Leaf, so it looks like this 65-mile range EV could be a handy commuter car option when it goes on sale.

I am looking forward to the full reveal at the Geneva Motor Show to find out more.

Source: Autocar


The Electric Vehicle that Would Take Off Like the iPhone

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Henrik Fisher said the other day that plug in electric vehicles would take off like iPhones or flatscreen TVs. Now, while there is certainly the potential for electric vehicle sales which is starting to become apparent particularly with the Nissan Leaf, and to a lesser extent the Tesla Roadster and Fisker’s own Karma, it seems to me that the real problem for EVs right now is that they don’t do what the iPhone did at its launch: Taking a familiar product to a whole different dimension of performance. In the case of the iPhone, this was usability.

So what does an electric car need to do to take the ICE’s crown?

  • The car has to be the same price as its petrol-drinking counterpart.
  • It has to have at least comparable range and quick refueling.
  • It needs to comfortably out-perform the combustion engine car in terms of speed, but particularly acceleration.
  • It must retain value well.
  • The car should be simpler to maintain.

So what are we talking here? Well, at least a 300-mile range although 500 miles would be a great headline figure. We know that most journeys are much shorter, but the fact is that the average person does feel that they need to be able to jump in the car and go for a drive of a few hundred miles.

Refueling is another thing. 5 minutes at the pump and you are done. Even a 1/2 hour charge time seems excessive in comparison. What if you could have a battery pack switched in without you even needing to leave the car? You could stay warm and dry, and be gone before the other guy has replaced his fuel cap?

When it comes to performance, electric cars have am edge. No gears and a flat delivery of torque from the get-go doesn’t only mean a fun performance car that is easy to drive, but also weight and complexity saved in ditching a multi-ratio drive train. Where the electric car does have weight, it is in the battery pack, and that has the advantage of being able to be put wherever it is needed – in this case down low in the center of the car to give it a low center of gravity for good handling.

So what might an ideal electric car look like? One that would have the instant appeal of an iPhone and ignite the EV market?

  • Batteries by EEStore continuously charged by a minaturized Blacklight Power onboard reactor for infinite range and zero refueling costs.
  • In-wheel motors generating 200PS each.
  • Styling and handling by Lotus – but not the “electric Elise” look again, please.
  • Ergonomics by err…. Apple. (Well, we want it to take off like an iPhone, right?)
  • Manufactured using Gordon Murray’s iStream process and sold in Apple Stores.

What do you think? What blend do you think would create the irresistible EV?