by Gugu Lourie
The future of car tech: a car customised to your needs.This car of the future also promises new benefits for society. It will be able to power your home and office as well as enhance vehicle safety, energy efficiencies and integration of self-driving technology. That is the undertaking from Japanese carmaker Nissan, which has promised to unlock the “true potential” in cities through self-driving cars and zero emission. The carmaker will make it possible to connect cars to social infrastructures, such as roads, information and electric power networks. This will ultimately lead to reduced traffic jams, more efficient car sharing, and autonomous drive. The development will change the world as we know it. Autonomous driving has been on the agenda of all carmakers determined to change mobility. A self-drive car that knows how to read the road and react to roads hazards makes zero road fatalities a welcome reality. Nissan wants the car to contribute to the community by assisting families to reduce their electricity bills and stop refuelling their cars at filling stations. The innovative carmaker is inventing a future for people – in which cars are their partners. Imagine the future of mobility in 2040 – no traffic congestion, no traffic lights, a car fitted with artificial intelligence to communicate with other vehicles and pedestrians. Add a self-driving car making deliveries and electric vehicles charging on wireless lanes. The good news is that Nissan doesn’t want car owners to imagine this future – it is working hard to make these imaginations real through its intelligent mobility strategy.
Powering homes, officesLast week at a media event near Tokyo in Japan, Nissan showed off its intelligent mobility strategy, which focuses on vehicle intelligence and electrification to make its corporate visions of “zero emissions” and “zero fatalities” a reality. In a demonstration, Nissan demonstrated how its future car will be a community partner that generates electricity. A “LEAF-to-Home” power supply system used a new Nissan LEAF with the electric vehicles Power Station unit – enough to power a conference room at the Sodegaura Forest Raceway. The Nissan LEAF electric vehicle provided electricity to the conference, powering TV monitors, refrigerators, smart devices, lights, barbeque/braai stands and other products. Wonga Mesatywa, Nissan’s director of corporate and general affairs at Nissan southern Africa, told TechFinancials in Japan that the “LEAF-to-Home” power supply system is coming to South Africa. For more read: Nissan LEAF Electric Car Being Tested to Power SA’s Homes [caption id="attachment_16014" align="aligncenter" width="526"] LEAF to Home System[/caption]
Safety: Zero fatalities on our roadsThe writer was also among guests able to ride in a Nissan Serena, which is equipped with ProPilot – a revolutionary autonomous drive technology designed for highway use in single-lane traffic. We enjoyed driving the car on Yokohama highways and experienced Nissan Serena’s fully automatic mode. Nissan Serena’s ProPILOT eased the workload in heavy highway traffic in Yokohama. When activated, the ProPILOT helps to keep the car centred by reading lane markers, measuring the distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you, and providing steering assistance. Even after only a short time behind the wheel, a Nissan Serena with ProPILOT is good technology to self-drive the car in one lane. It cost $2000 (R27, 849.37) to add ProPILOT system in a Nissan Serena. The technology is extremely user-friendly, thanks to a switch on the steering wheel that allows the driver to easily activate and deactivate the system. The carmaker has not yet announced any timelines to introduce ProPILOT in emerging markets such as South Africa, Morocco, Brazil and Chile. The Nissan Serena would look great in South Africa’s highways. The carmaker plans to introduce a multi-lane autonomous driving technology to enable automatic lane changes on highways. It is planned for introduction in 2018 while autonomous driving on urban roads and in intersections is planned for launch two years later. In simple terms, ProPILOT is a blend of adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist or active steering technology. It is a solid step towards self-driving. Ford, BMW, and Tesla are also forging ahead with their plans for delivering autonomous cars by 2021. Bosch and Daimler are also working together on developing a fully automated vehicle. For more read: Bosch, Daimler to Work on Fully Automated, Driverless System
Future of carsDaniele Schillaci, Nissan’s executive vice president, said the electric vehicle will change the cost of ownership for the customer. Schillaci says today if you own a car you have a fixed cost, but electric vehicle becomes a variable cost. “It charges your car at night and during the day it charges your home. Everything is moving from a fixed cost to a variable cost. This is fantastic for the customer,” he says. Nissan is inventing more products to position itself well in a future of transportation. The Japanese carmaker wants to be part of that amazing future of cars. It is moving forward with the democratisation of electric vehicles. It has also developed a BladeGlider, which epitomises Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility strategy. I enjoyed the ride in the fully electric vehicle, the BladeGlider, as we were driven around the Sodegaura Forest Raceway. I was dumbfounded by the car’s aerodynamic shape, which seems to be taking us back to the vintage cars, and its near-silent performance of its electric powertrain. The BladeGlider shares sustainable engineering values with both Nissan LEAF — the best-selling electric vehicle in history. It was also great to drive the Nissan LEAF Nismo RC with a 100% zero emission lithium-ion powertrain. The racing car doesn’t have an engine, uses no petrol or diesel, and is 100% electric vehicle. Driving this car at the Sodegaura Forest Raceway was truly an experience. Nissan was also displaying various concept cars such as the Navara EnGuard Concept, Nissan Caravan Camping and Nissan e-Power. Unlike the LEAF, e-POWER adds a small gasoline engine to charge the high-output battery when necessary, eliminating the need for an external charger while offering the same high-output. The e-POWER is fitted on Nissan’s popular Note compact family model in Japan. Schillaci sees huge opportunities for e-POWER technology in India. Nissan is also preparing for the future. At Ginza – Tokyo’s most famous upmarket shopping and dining district, Nissan displayed its Nissan Concept 2020 Vision Gran Turismo – a next generation GT concept. The concept car began as a dream project for a group of young designers at Nissan Design Europe. The goal was to create a virtual car, one to live only in the minds of the designers, and on the screens of gamers. The stunning model was on display at Ginza shopping centre. The car is ready to take the world by storm. This car gives hints as to how a supercar of the future might look. Nissan is carving up a new future that’s based on autonomous drive, electric vehicles and connected mobility solutions. It is transforming cars to be our true partners in our lives. Let us hope that this future will be more beneficial to us as a society and create much-needed zero-accidents on our roads and make driving a pleasure. South Africa could stand to benefit more from Nissan’s intelligent mobility strategy.
- Lourie was the guest of Nissan in Tokyo, Japan.