Nissan today entered the hotly contested field of autonomous driving like the proverbial hedgehog approaches sex: very carefully. At its Yokohama headquarters, Nissan announced the impending mass market launch of its ProPilot system this morning, and in the afternoon, the system was put in the hands of reporters at Nissan’s old test track in Oppama, near the U.S. Navy base in Yokosuka, Japan. Without human input, cars maintained lane discipline, navigated through windy curves, and kept a safe distance from the car ahead. After the test drive, Bloomberg wrote that ProPilot is like a “similar system from electric-car maker Tesla Motors.” The marketing approaches of both companies however could not be any more different.
Nissan today showed a fuel cell system that could overcome the main drawback of current hydrogen fuel cell systems, namely how to get the hydrogen to the car. Nissan’s system uses readily available ethanol alcohol. An on-board “reformer” the +-converts the ethanol to hydrogen. In the fuel cell stack, the hydrogen is converted to electric power.
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It’s a hallowed industry tradition: Every six months or so, the media, led by Japan’s Nikkei, and with Bloomberg as the runner-up, speculates that Carlos Ghosn might retire as CEO of Nissan, Renault, or both, never mind that it never happens. Ghosn routinely resorts to a standard repartee, repeated like clockwork whenever a reporter brings up the question of Ghosn stepping down: “My plan is to continue to lead the Alliance as long as I have the trust of my shareholders.”
Last week, a hairline crack in the heretofore unconditional shareholder trust emerged.
Nissan, first mover in the electric vehicle space, plans for a major EV inflection point in the 2019/2020 time-frame. By that date, two factors will cause EVs go mainstream, the company said today. [Continue Reading]
With all the hand-wringing about young people losing their interest in cars, a few things should be self-evident: Growing up with smartphones in their toddler’s hands, the younger generations are increasingly horrified by a breakdown of connectivity. The jihad against texting drives this generation into mass transit. Growing up in a culture where everything is free, and where one volunteers instead of going to work, the car must be affordable (or “accessible” as the word is in the biz.) Carmakers are slowly waking up to that challenge.
At the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show, Nissan will show its “Teatro for Dayz” concept. The car is thought to an EV inside of a kei car body. The interesting part is that the instrument panel will be one huge horizontal screen. The screen is a clean canvass where the driver can arrange gauges etc like widgets on a smartphone. [Continue Reading]
The global auto industry has a drug problem. For years, the industry has been high on China. With sales suddenly in minus territory, the industry is going into withdrawal. China amounts to more than a quarter of worldwide auto sales. China is the largest market of global automakers Volkswagen and GM. For the past decade, China was a reliable supplier of insatiable customers. Suddenly, no more. [Continue Reading]
Global carmakers need to change their plodding ways, and embrace “massive change of our products,” Renault and Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said today. “The car has seen rapid change in the past ten years,” Ghosn told leaders of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry today in Tokyo. “Let me tell you, the car five to ten years down the road is going to be much more different from the one today.” [Continue Reading]
At yesterday’s shareholder conference in Yokohama, Nissan said it is already testing an electric vehicle that will provide the same range as today’s gasoline-driven cars. In front of a blue Nissan Leaf acting as a test mule for the new technology, Nissan’s CEO Carlos Ghosn said that “in the near future,” Nissan will offer EV mobility “comparative to today’s conventional vehicles.” According to Ghosn, Nissan is testing “new materials and chemistry solutions in order to make thinner, lighter weight and less costly batteries.” [Continue Reading]