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GM Has Big Plans for Expanded Battery Lab

Detroit maker expands R&D center in push for better range.

by on Sep.17, 2013

Work gets underway at GM's expanded battery research center in suburban Detroit.

Facing increasing competition in the battery car market as global makers like Nissan, Volkswagen and Toyota begin fielding an array of hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles, General Motors has launched a major expansion of its battery development lab.

The move could prove critical not only in going up against GM’s traditional competitors but also new players in the alternative powertrain space, such as California battery-car start-up Tesla Motors. GM has confirmed plans to develop a vehicles that will deliver the extended range to challenge Tesla’s well-reviewed Model S.

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The research lab will also target ways to reduce charging times in an effort to make plug-based vehicles more practical in everyday use.

“GM is committed to vehicle electrification and our products in this area must continue to excite customers. A critical part of this plan is to deliver safe, reliable and affordable energy storage systems,” said Larry Nitz, GM’s executive director of global electrification engineering.


Nissan Likely to Launch U.S. Hybrid Production

But despite new Tenn. battery-car plant, hybrid batteries will still be imported.

by on Jan.24, 2013

The hybrid-powered Nissan Resonance will reappear in production trim as the next-generation Nissan Murano.

Nissan is likely to start producing a new generation of hybrid-electric vehicles at its assembly plant in Smyrna, Tennessee in the near future.

The Infiniti JX is among the first models assembled in the U.S. that will be equipped with Nissan’s new 1-motor/2-clutch hybrid system, senior sources told Other American-made models, including the new Altima and Pathfinder, along with next-generation versions of the Rogue and Murano may also add hybrid drivelines in the near future.

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But countering some newly published reports, the batteries for the hybrids will likely continue to be imported from Japan despite the recent launch of a new lithium-ion plant alongside the sprawling Smyrna factory complex.


Ghosn Sees Buyers Plugging Into Battery Power

But Leaf lags as Volt charges ahead.

by on Apr.04, 2012

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn remains confident battery-car sales will take off this decade.

They may little more than an asterisk on the sales charts, right now, but battery cars will account for as much as 10% of the market by 2020 – or so predicts Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, one of the industry’s most unabashed promoters of zero-emissions technology.

A little more than year after the launch of the Japanese maker’s battery-electric Leaf, sales appear to be lagging behind plans, the Nissan BEV, or battery-electric vehicle, generating just 579 sales in March – or barely half what it hit at peak last year.  That number – along with the weak performance by other electric vehicles has left many wondering whether the technology just doesn’t turn on consumers.

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Not Ghosn.  He remains as committed as ever, as he made clear during a keynote speech at a conference in New York City sponsored by consulting firm IHS and the National Automobile Dealers Association.  “Am I still bullish on electric vehicles? Yes,” he proclaimed.


Infiniti to Reveal EV Concept in New York

Sportier, longer range than Nissan Leaf.

by on Mar.21, 2012

The Infiniti Emerg-E concept vehicle first seen at the Geneva Motor Show this month.

The Nissan Leaf is about to get a sportier sibling.  The Japanese maker’s luxury brand Infiniti will pull the wraps off its own battery-electric vehicle during the upcoming New York Auto Show.

While company officials are holding most of the details for that April introduction, they revealed to that the Infiniti battery car will share the same underpinnings as the Leaf it will be “more aggressive” in terms of both looks and performance.

“It was designed to be a luxury vehicle first and an electric vehicle second,” said Infiniti marketing manager Sam Chung.

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The new model – which Infiniti has yet to put a name to – will be Nissan Motor Co.’s second battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, underscoring the Japanese maker’s expansive electric propulsion program.  Along with its French alliance partner Renault, Nissan plans to have capacity in place to produce over 400,000 electric vehicles annually by mid-decade.  That includes a new facility operating alongside the current Nissan assembly plant in Smyrna, Tennessee.


Infiniti Developing Plug-In Hybrid

Will follow launch of Luxury Brand’s First EV.

by on Nov.28, 2011

Infiniti offers a hint of the plug-in hybrid it is developing.

Having confirmed plans to add its first battery-electric vehicle for 2014, Infiniti has now revealed its goal of launching a new plug-in hybrid, as well.

The luxury brands second battery car, which it describes as a “range-extending electric sports car,” will make its debut at the Geneva Motor Show next March.

It will enter a rapidly expanding segment for battery-based luxury vehicles.  General Motors’ Cadillac division is preparing a high-line version of the Chevrolet Volt, to be dubbed the Cadillac ELR, while BMW is readying both the plug-in i8 and battery-electric i3 models for a new sub-brand focusing exclusively on green powertrain technology.

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The two teaser shots released by Infiniti – the luxury arm of Nissan Motor Co. – suggest the plug-in will be inspired by the 2-seat Nissan ESFLOW concept vehicle.  While Infiniti isn’t offering any specifics the ESFLOW was a pure battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, with a stated range of 150 miles and sports car performance that Nissan estimated would yield 0 to 60 times in less than 5 seconds.


Nissan Increasingly Bullish On Battery Power

Maker sees electric vehicles capturing 10% of global market by 2020.

by on Nov.01, 2010

Battery-electric vehicles will account for 10% of the global automotive market by 2020, contends Carlos Tavares, EVP of Nissan in America.

The push to zero-emission vehicles is inevitable, a senior Nissan executive declared during a visit to Detroit, on Monday, just weeks before the maker formally launches sales of its first mass-market battery-electric vehicle, the 2011 Nissan Leaf.

By 2020, forecast Carlos Tavares, executive vice president of Nissan in America, pure battery-electric vehicles, like the Leaf, will account for 10% of worldwide vehicle sales.  Considering global volumes are expected to reach perhaps 65 to 70 million by the end of the decade, that would mean sales of perhaps 7 million BEVs annually – a figure significantly in excess of what many other industry leaders are projecting.

“You won’t be surprised if we disagree,” Tavares said, referring to several recent surveys that took a more pessimistic view of the potential market for battery power.

One of the most widely quoted, J.D. Power and Associates’ new Drive Green study, predicts all forms of battery propulsion, including conventional hybrids, plug-ins and battery-electrics, will generate just 7.3% of global sales by 202, with BEVs accounting for barely a third of the overall market. (Click Here for that story.)

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While Tavares said Nissan is aware of the “tough challenges,” he argued that there is now a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to bring pure electric propulsion into the mainstream.  But critical to achieving that goal are factors that include:

  • The development of better, lower-cost batteries;
  • The creation of a smart infrastructure to handle the switch and manage the distribution of electric power; and
  • The establishment of a nationwide network of public charging stations.


First Look: Nissan Townpod

Clean urban mobility.

by on Sep.30, 2010

Nissan Chief Operating Office Toshiyuki Shiga reveals the maker's latest battery car concept, the Townpod.

One thing you can say about Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of both Nissan and its alliance partner, Renault, he’s determined to prove there’s a serious market for electric vehicles.

While the Japanese maker’s first battery car, the Leaf, is still a few months away from launch, Nissan was talking up other ideas for green mobility during the Paris Motor Show preview – and backing its words up with an all-new concept for clean urban mobility, the Townpod.

“The journey to zero emission is just beginning,” suggested Ghosn’s top lieutenant, Nissan COO Toshiyuki Shiga, as the covers lifted off the battery-electric vehicle, or BEV.

Under the skin, the Townpod shares it’s electric drive system with the Leaf, meaning a 24 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack driving a single electric motor.  (Click Here for’s review of the 2011 Nissan Leaf.)

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As with Leaf, Townpod would be expected to deliver about 100 miles range and take about 8 hours to recharge using a 220-volt charger.  Performance also would likely be described as “brisk” from 0 to around 35 mph, thanks to the torquey performance of electric drive systems.


Enterprise To Begin Renting Nissan Leaf

100 battery cars will be offered in eight cities.

by on Jul.28, 2010

You'll soon be able to Leaf an Enterprise Rent-a-Car lot driving Nissan's new battery car.

The first chance many potential customers will get to drive the new Nissan Leaf battery-electric vehicle could come at an Enterprise Rent-a-Car lot.

The company plans to begin offering 100 Leafs for rent, starting next January, shortly after the debut of the BEV, which is targeted to go to fleet markets first, then follow up with retail sales in late 2011.  Enterprise says it will start with eight markets, including Los Angeles, generally seen as the country’s most battery car-friendly city.

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The rental firm hasn’t yet set a price for a daily rental of the Leaf, though a spokeswoman hinted it will likely be higher than a similar-sized gasoline-powered vehicle.  But that applies to the compact Nissan sedan itself.


Nissan May Offer Optional Longer-Range, Higher-Power Batteries

Instead of I-4, V-6 or V-8, buyers may pick size of power pack.

by on Nov.16, 2009

Nissan may eventually offer optional, higher-power, longer-range batteries for the Leaf BEV, shown here with CEO Carlos Ghosn.

Nissan may eventually offer optional, higher-power, longer-range batteries for the Leaf BEV, shown here with CEO Carlos Ghosn.

Would you like to Super-Size that battery?

The typical new car buyer has a myriad array of options to chose from, covering everything from paint color to the quality of the sound system, but one of the most substantial choices usually concerns engine size.  Do you want that fuel-efficient inline-four or a high-performance V-8?

But what happens when the industry begins the conversion to electric power?

When Nissan begins rolling out its new Leaf battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, next year, there’ll be just one powertrain package: using lithium-ion batteries, it will deliver 100 miles of range, 0 to 60 times of less than 10 seconds and a top speed of 90 mpg.

(Click Here for a review of the 2011 Nissan Leaf battery-electric vehicle.)

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But a senior Nissan planner tells that the company eventually give BEV buyers the electric vehicle’s equivalent of choosing engines, offering an array of different battery packs.  That would allow a motorist to choose between a lower-range, lower-cost pack, or batteries delivering perhaps twice the mileage, at a higher price, of course.  And, as battery technology improves, eco-minded motorists might also be offered batteries that would add a bit more muscle to their green machines.