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Infiniti Delays LE Luxury Battery Car

Nissan division waiting for battery range, performance gains.

by on Jul.10, 2013

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn shown with the Infiniti LE battery-car concept.

Even as demand for its little Leaf battery-electric vehicle begins to gain momentum, Nissan has temporarily pulled the plug on plans to bring the Infiniti LE to market, though sources tell TheDetroitBureau.com that the luxury electric vehicle is still very much part of the maker’s mid-term plans.

The challenge, it seems, is to come up with the sort of improvements in range and performance – as well as the requisite upscale niceties, such as leather seats – that would make the Infiniti more than just a gussied-up Leaf. Nissan is also watching to see how the market responds to other luxury battery cars, notably including the new BMW “i” models, as well as the more expensive Tesla Model S.

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“The car is still planned but I don’t think we’re in any rush to bring the car to market,” said a ranking source closely connected to Nissan’s battery car program.

While he noted the growth of the overall market for electric propulsion, the source acknowledged it is not coming “as rapidly as we initially thought,” adding that “we need to get the mass market to grow before luxury buyers accept the technology.”

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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 TheDetroitBureau.com. 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.

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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.

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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 TheDetroitBureau.com’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.

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Ghosn Defends Nissan’s EV Program

Battery power is “here to stay,” says exec.

by on May.25, 2010

With the 2011 Nissan Leaf only set to begin fleet sales later this year, the maker already claims to have nearly 20,000 retail orders in hand.

Like it not, the electric car is here to stay, Carlos Ghosn, CEO of the Renault-Nissan Allliance, said during a whirlwind visit to Detroit.

The Japanese side of the alliance, in particular, is betting heavily on battery power, with its first battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, the Nissan Leaf, due to go on sale late this year.  Other models, including a luxury BEV for the Infiniti brand, are set to follow.

The first-year production of the electric-powered Nissan Leaf is already sold out, Ghosn said, noting the Japanese automaker already has 13,000 orders from customers in the U.S. and another 6,000 orders from buyers in Japan, with more pouring in every day.

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Initially, Nissan plans to offer the 2011 Leaf to fleet buyers, but for 2012 it will go into retail sale, and in the U.S., the orders have come from private citizens not government organizations, stressed Ghosn.

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Q&A: Nissan EV Director Hideaki Watanabe

Making the case for Zero-Emissions vehicles.

by on Nov.16, 2009

Can Nissan make a profit on the Leaf, even while charging no more than a comparable, gasoline-powered small car?

Can Nissan make a profit on the Leaf, even while charging no more than a comparable, gasoline-powered small car?

Nissan is kicking off a 22-city tour designed to promote the first of four battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, that it plans to bring out over the next several years.

The debut event coincided with the announcement of a new joint venture with Reliant Energy, one of the largest electric utilities in the U.S.  The automaker has been racing to ink a series of joint ventures with utilities, battery producers and even governments, such as Portugal and Israel, in its bid to make electric propulsion not just the darling of environmentalists but a competitive alternative to the conventional internal combustion engine.

While the battery car program is the pet project of Nissan’s hard-charging CEO Carlos Ghosn, the man who has to pull it all together is Hideaki Watanabe, the general manager of the automaker’s advanced propulsion program.  The ebullient executive was on hand during the Zero-Emissions Tour kickoff, in Los Angeles, discussing the program in only faintly accented English, which he honed during a three-year stint in the United States.

Watanabe discussed the challenges of battery technology, as well as some unexpected advantages that, he feels, could attract customers not simply driven by “eco-guilt.”  He spoke with TheDetroitBureau.com Publisher Paul A. Eisenstein.

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TheDetroitBureau: Everyone at Nissan seems to be, if you’ll pardon the pun, charged up about battery vehicles.  Why, considering so many competitors are still reluctant to comit to the technology?

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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 TheDetroitBureau.com 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.

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