Ancient mystery, finally solved: Who invented the minivan? No, it wasn’t Chrysler

Nakayama in front of the world’s first minivan. Picture (c) Bertel Schmitt

Chrysler is widely believed of having invented the minivan, the vehicle universally despised by car bloggers, and much adored by their soccer-moms. Revisionist history, says Ryuji Nakayama, curator of Nissan’s Heritage Collection. Standing in front of a first-generation Nissan Prairie, and sporting his trademark grey mop-top, Nakayama pronounced the Prairie “probably the world’s very first minivan.”

The Nissan Prairie was launched in 1981, three years before Chrysler’s quintessential Dodge Caravan. The Prairie had everything that characterizes this new segment: Three rows of seats, no center, or “B” pillar, “and for the first time, we had a sliding door that opened on one side only,” Nakayama explained today to a group of reporters that found its way to Nissan’s Zama facility, despite a massive typhoon barreling down on Japan’s metropolis. [Continue Reading]

World’s Largest Automakers May 2018: VW extending its lead – slightly

The battle for World’s Largest Automaker 2018 turns more and more into a bitter fight between Volkswagen Group and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. Five months into the year, VW managed to extend its lead ever so slightly, with only 45,000 units separating the Germans from the French-Japanese nipping at their heels.

Former ichi ban Toyota apparently has decided to sit back and relax. Toyota Group’s worldwide production basically is the same it was January to May 2017. [Continue Reading]

Automotive Grade Linux is hitting the road

Ken-ichi Murata of Toyota, and Daimler’s Thomas Wurdig at the AGL Summit in Tokyo (c)Bertel Schmitt

More than 1,000 nerds, geeks, and hackers are convening in Tokyo this week to decide on the future of the automobile. Word got around that the car’s future is digital, and the conventioneers, meeting at the Tokyo Conference Center Ariake, are involved in writing your car’s operating system, called Automotive Grade Linux, or AGL.

Linux is what powers the website you are reading, Linux makes your phone work if you are using an Android device. A remote cousin of Linux drives your iPhone. If it is up to the conventioneers, Linux will be the standard operating system of future cars. [Continue Reading]

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance develops new car platform for emerging markets

Peyman Kargar in Yokohama (c) Bertel Schmitt

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is developing a new platform at its Chennai, India, engineering center, a Nissan senior executive disclosed today in Yokohama Japan. In presenting his mid-term plan for the region, Peyman Kargar, responsible for Nissan’s Africa Middle East and India region, said “what’s  under development now is a little higher than the current platform we are using for Redi Go and Kwid.” Kargar refused  to “disclose more at the moment,”  and Nissan spokespeople likewise maintained cover.

Renault’s very successful $4,000 Kwid, and its Datsun cousin Redi-Go, are built upon the Alliance’s CMF-A common modular family architecture. (See here for an article I wrote years ago about the platform.)

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Nissan says no to Trump’s indecent fuel efficiency proposal

Kawaguchi and McLain

“We are not going to relax,” said Nissan’s Chief Sustainability Officer Hitoshi Kawaguchi, when Wall Street Journal’s Tokyo reporter Sean McLain asked him today in Yokohama whether Trump’s fuel efficiency rollback would impact Nissan’s plans to reduce consumption and hence emissions of its cars by 40% until 2022. [Continue Reading]

Mitsubishi Electric leaves us in the dark on its super-secret headlight-sensor

Operating in the dark – (c) Bertel Schmitt

Today at Mitsubishi Electric’s Tokyo HQ, we were given a preview of what the company will show at the upcoming Asia CES in Shanghai. We’ve seen an LED headlight that adapts to what is in front of us. While this may not sound revolutionary, hidden in the gadget that might escape Mitsubishi’s labs in a few years is something that might help autonomous drive solve a big conundrum.   [Continue Reading]

Toyota prepares for the worst

Akio Toyoda, and some samurai – (c) Bertel Schmitt

If you read the press reports of Toyota’s annual results conference today, you will think all is peachy. After all, “Toyota Motor Corp. reported Wednesday that its quarterly profit rose 21 percent,” wrote the Detroit News. On top of that, Toyota submitted an “upbeat profit forecast,” said Bloomberg. The Toyota share was up strong at the news. I, however, walked out of the Tokyo meeting room given the impression that Toyota fears the sky might fall.

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China NEV Weekly Episode 9: Leap Into The Endless Sea Of New Brands

China NEV Weekly

China NEV Weekly

Welcome to Episode 9 of China NEV Weekly, this time with sports cars, sedans, SUVs, MPV, and no less than five new brands. Time to roll:

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