Nissan has showcased its electric vehicle (EV) platform on a Tiida-based hatchback model. The Nissan EV-11 prototype seats four-five adults, has a top speed of around 87mph (140kmh), a cruising range of 100 miles (160km) between charges and, being a full EV, produces zero local CO2 emissions. The in-house developed electric motor delivers 80kW (107hp) for “high response and powerful acceleration”. Nissan has also plans some clever IT for its EV platform, like remote ON/OFF charging via a cell phone or the Internet, useful mapping features including automatic updates on the nearest charging stations, a global data center providing 24/7 support and a scheme that could even see non-contact charging introduced in carparks.
One thing that has been holding back the acceptance of EVs is there inability to maintain enough charge/power to allow commuters to relax while driving, rather than have one eye on the road and one eye on the ‘fuel’ gauge. And the recharging process can also be painfully slow - another negative.
Nissan states that 80% of drivers worldwide drive fewer than 60 miles (100km) daily and has installed lithium-ion batteries on its EV platform (24kW battery pack), which have a higher energy density than other batteries. This translates into longer intervals between charging and provides a cruising range of 100 miles (160km). That means most vehicles will only require charging once daily, usually overnight.
Nissan has accomplished longer intervals between charges in a number of ways, apart from its battery selection.
A regenerative braking system gathers energy as the vehicle is slowed. Regenerative breaking captures the kinetic energy that is usually lost and stores it to power the electric motor. Effectively the electric motor works in reverse during the process of regenerative braking and acts as a generator to recharge the batteries.
Nissan’s EV is designed with reduced aerodynamic drag which adds to its efficiency while the built-in ‘smarts’ allow commuters to set the air conditioner to cool the cabin while the vehicle is still being recharged, which also prolongs intervals between charges (more on that below).
Pedal to the metal
Nissan says the EV-11 will deliver a quick response on the accelerator, akin to a ‘launch effect’ when accelerating from a stopped position.
The company has developed its own highly responsive EV motor which it says adds a new dimension in acclleration and drivers should expect a quieter ride with basically no engine noise from start-up to top speed.
The concept Tiida has employed a number of other features for a better ride, including an additional frame for the battery pack to significantly improve the rigidity of the vehicle, and the thin lithium-ion battery pack fits neatly into the vehicle floor providing greater cabin space, passenger comfort and a more normal driving position.
On-board IT and support
Nissan has added an impressive IT support service for its EV platform. Each vehicle has an on-board transmitting unit that is in constant contact with a global data center and provides drivers with helpful information at their fingertips.
Commuters can remotely check the charge condition of their vehicle, and even receive notification via cell phone when the vehicle is fully charged (handy when out shopping or dining). Drivers can also pre-set a timer to begin charging the vehicle when electricity tariffs are at their optimum, usually late at night.
The air conditioning unit can be activated by cell phone or Internet to adjust the car’s interior to the desired temperature before entry which reduces drain on the batteries while the car in is motion.
The on-board computer can predict when the vehicle will need recharging (in miles/kms) and also provide the position of charging stations within the planned trip radius. It can also deliver updates on the status of nearby charging stations.
The global data center can calculate the mileage/charge, etc of the day’s commute and make this information in ‘real time’ to the driver via the Internet.
Nissan says drivers will have the option of a fast or ordinary charge, depending on their time of stay at a charging station (or price point). Regular charging, say at home, from a single-phase 100v 15A outlet takes around 16 hours. A single-phase 200v 15A outlet will take approximately eight hours to charge the vehicle, while a fast charge from a three-phase 200v outlet will take around 30 minutes.
Obviously, for EVs to achieve mass adoption by the driving public, easy access to charging stations is a must. Nissan says it is collaborating with governments and agencies on infrastructure development to deliver this outcome.
Non-contact charging has the potential to make EV’s even more appetizing. The idea of parking at a shopping center or commercial precinct and returning to a fully-charged vehicle has real appeal. Nissan is conducting research into the commercial use of non-contact charging systems. Basically, the vehicle is parked over a primary coil and power is transferred wirelessly to a secondary coil housed under the EV. Maybe large retail outlets could offer this service at a reduced rate or carparks could charge extra for it?
EV-IT support function
Nissan has developed a sophisticated IT system for its zero-emission EVs, connecting the vehicle’s on-board transmitting unit to a global data center to provide year-round EV support through identical telematics services via mobile networks.
The all-electric vehicle is set for a 2010 launch and will have a unique design and body. Nissan plans to unveil the design of the production EV at its new global headquarters opening in Yokohama shortly.