Since April, we’ve been continually updating you on the progress of Nissan’s electric vehicle (EV) program with up to the minute news bulletins like this one.And this one.This one over here.And, yup, this one. Well today, Nissan essentially stuffed all of this information into one giant EV gyoza and reheated it for us at the automaker’s Advanced Technology Briefing at the Oppama Grandrive test track in Yokosuka, Japan.Was it fresh? Admittedly, no. None of what we saw today was groundbreaking stuff, but it certainly was nutritious — especially once we chewed on it for a while and digested all the details.The real purpose of this heaping helping of electrifying info is to build a buzz about Nissan’s latest EV — which happens to be making its debut this Sunday at the company’s new headquarters in Yokohama. Unlike previous concept vehicles and test mules, Nissan’s newest EV will not be a Frankenstein’d mashup of an existing platform and all electric power train. This as yet unnamed EV will be based on an all new, purpose built front wheel drive platform with a plug-in rechargeable electric motor up front and batteries slung low under the belly of the car.Nissan is not using cylindrical cell type batteries like many other electric and hybrid vehicle manufacturers opting instead for flat lithium ion (LiOn) laminate cells that look a bit like giant Pop Tarts. These batteries, developed in partnership with Japanese electronics manufacturer NEC, uses manganese as the positive electrode, instead of metals like nickel or cobalt. Manganese is relatively inexpensive and abundant in comparison to those other metals, and when oriented in Nissan/NEC’s special spinel structure (think Lego blocks) versus the standard sandwich orientation, the result is a battery that Nissan claims is more stable, reliable, and cost efficient than the competition’s. The flat shape and large surface area of the batteries also makes for easier packaging (in stacks) and cooling. It also means the batteries use fewer components than cylindrical type cells, which also keeps cost down. In Nissan’s EV program, these laminate cells, about the size and thickness of a magazine are stacked four to a module. Forty-eight modules and a management system, packaged as a single lumpy unit and enclosed in a metal frame, comprise the EV’s battery pack. The idea here is that this battery pack could then be bolted up into an EV on an assembly line – as car makers do with various subassemblies. Supplying these battery packs is Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC), a company co-developed by Nissan and Renault. The battery pack slots in underneath the car, between the wheels, where you would traditionally find a driveshaft or exhaust pipes running the length of the vehicle. Some of the modules in the pack are stacked horizontally and vertically to create the base for the front and rear seats in this 5 passenger car. Others lie flat in the battery pack and compose rear seat foot well. Nissan calls the arrangement high-low-high. Though heavy (each of the 48 modules weighs roughly 7.7 lbs), the battery pack’s ground hugging orientation should provide for a low center of gravity and good handling.So will the 80KW electric motor that sits up front in the chassis. While the inverter sits relatively high in the engine bay – about the normal height of an internal combustion engine’s cylinder head – to facilitate access to the charging ports, the electric motor sits very low, between the front wheels and far beneath the strut towers – about where you’d expect to find the oil pan of a traditional engine.Overall, Nissan’s layout is impressive because of its elegance and simplicity. EV powertrain aside, the cutaway model reveals what is essentially a blank canvas. With the front engine/front wheel drive configuration and all of the batteries low and out of the way, the cargo and passenger area looked like they could be configured in number of ways, without sacrifices to either. Almost any type of body style could be designed on top this platform as well. And theoretically, you could even make this a rear or all wheel drive vehicle by beefing up the rear suspension and stuffing another electric motor in the back, low and behind the battery pack. Such speculation is all fine and good, but how does it drive?Quite well actually. We had but the briefest taste of the EV’s performance – one lap around the Grandrive test track in a Versa-based test mule – but it made a compelling case.Acceleration is surprisingly brisk; the 80 kW electric motor doles out all of its 207 lb ft of torque in less than 100 milleseconds once you hit the throttle, providing the sensation of instant response. Nissan engineers claim it accelerates better than an Infiniti G35 by leaving the line quicker and getting up to speed more smoothly. Its top speed of only 87 mph is quite a bit off the pace of the G. On the other hand, it’s much quieter than that car or any for that matter. The electric motor and single speed gearbox mean it’s nothing but quiet thrust when you put your foot down. The only sounds come from the tires as they hum over the pavement and the greenhouse as the wind rushes over and across it. As for the rest of the ride, well, Nissan’s EV mule drives pretty much like a standard issue Versa. Shrunken joystick shifter and tab style parking brake lever aside, the rest of this test mule’s controls feel the same as a standard Versa. Same goes for the ride and handling; the cars pushes back if you ask it to corner too fast, but it does feel more planted and less tippy as it turns. Perhaps the battery placement providing the extra stability.With a range of 100 miles on a full charge, Nissan claims its EV will suit the average commuting needs of approximately 80% of Americans. What happens when the battery runs down? Well Nissan has clearly thought a lot about that as well; they not only have a plan for how you can charge the car at your house at night, but how you’ll manage during a
busy workweek or weekend.Nissan’s EV battery pack can be charged in a number of ways. A home recharging kit allows you to power up the EV from standard 110V or 220V outlets. Simply connect an SAE standardized pistol-like charger to the port at the nose of the car and wait. Charge times at 110V are claimed to be approximately 8 hours; half that for 220V. Nissan has also developed special three phase, 200V quick charging stations can deliver 80% battery charge in 30 minutes – though it requires a larger, specially shaped charger and receiver port.To reduce any anxiety associated with the limited 100 mile range and long recharging times, Nissan has also given its EV a special monitoring system they call EV-IT. This system monitors the battery level and provides range information on a navigation screen, so users will never have to wonder how far they can go or where they can juice up. Nissan claims EV-IT will also provide a whole host of smart features to the EV driving experience and set up an animated clip to showcase what living with its EV might be like:You wake up to find an email on your smartphone from your Nissan EV providing a update on the battery charge – a benefit of the networked EV-IT system. Assuming you’ve had it plugged in for 8hours at 110V or 4 hours at 220V, your car should be fully charged. At this point, you can remotely turn the A/C on (and in the future, and engine oil warmer) to get the car up to suitable operating temperature while it is still plugged in. This conserves energy for your morning commute.While you recoup some of the power on the way to work via regenerative braking, the bulk of recharging takes place at work – via the 110V/220V system, or a quick charger. After a long day of work, you pull into your garage, click her off and plug her in. But you don’t start charging right away. Via your smartphone, you program a start time for the charging cycle; late in the night when demand and electricity rates are lowest. For longer weekend trips, EV-IT will help you plan your route, by keeping up to date on your remaining battery power and driving range and locating charging stations nearby. In Nissan’s future, shopping centers and restaurants along your route will have quick charging stations, so you can continually keep your EV’s batteries charged with minimal disruption to your journey. Further off are plans for non contact charging via electromagnetic induction. Imagine being able to top off your car’s batteries by simply pulling your EV over a special recharging pad built into the ground. Whether you’re parked for hours at the local mega mall or for just a minute at a red light, the battery charge goes up.Sound too good to be true? Perhaps. This Sunday, (Saturday for America), Nissan will unveil the first step towards this future, when it reveals its as yet unnamed, zero emissions electric vehicle at its new headquarters in Yokohama. We’ll be there for a complete update, so stay tuned.
Source : blogs.motortrend.com/6564081/green/driving-the-future-nissans-all-new-electric-vehicle/index.html