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First Drive: 2018 Nissan Leaf

Nissan balances range and price while upping the fun factor.

by on Dec.12, 2017

Nissan's second-generation Leaf features a significant upgrade in range and technology.

Eight years after Nissan lifted the covers on what would become the world’s first mass-market battery-electric vehicle, the Japanese automaker has just launched production of the all-new, second-generation Nissan Leaf.

Plenty has changed since the original model came to market. Batteries are growing more powerful, even as their price has fallen more than six-fold since the beginning of the decade, translating into longer range at lower costs. And while “BEVs” still make up little more than a rounding error when it comes to overall U.S. sales, demand is clearly growing. But so is the list of competitors Leaf has to stare down, including both the Chevrolet Bolt EV and the Tesla Model 3.

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With the Gen-2 Leaf, Nissan chose to walk a tightrope. It doesn’t offer quite as much range as the Chevy and Tesla battery-cars, but it’s thousands of dollars cheaper. The 2018 Leaf is also less wonky in appearance and a lot more fun to drive than the model it replaced, TheDetroitBureau.com discovered, during a long day of driving through fire-scarred Napa Valley earlier this month. (more…)

Nissan to Test Robocabs Ahead of 2022 Launch of First Fully Autonomous Vehicles

Japanese maker plans to bring increasingly sophisticated self-driving tech to market each year.

by on Dec.11, 2017

A prototype, 1st-gen Nissan Leaf is shown during testing in Tokyo traffic.

One of the first automakers to commit to developing autonomous vehicle technology, Nissan plans to begin field-testing its first robocabs in Japan next year, part of an expanding development program aimed at putting fully autonomous vehicles into production by 2022.

The pilot program, pairing Nissan with technology development firm DeNA, will operate near the Japanese automaker’s headquarters in Yokohama. It will be the latest in a fast-growing series of self-driving ride-share programs, including one started by Google spin-off Waymo this year. Lyft is launching its own field test in Boston. And Nissan’s alliance partner, Renault has been testing similar technology in France.

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Nissan last week revealed it intends to have its first fully autonomous vehicle in production sometime during the 2022 calendar year. But the carmaker plans to introduce a series of increasingly sophisticated, semi-autonomous technologies before then, starting with the ProPilot system debuting on the 2018 Nissan Leaf battery-electric vehicle.

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Nissan Rolls Out Seven Star Wars-Themed Vehicles at L.A. Auto Show

Use the Force, Nissan.

by on Nov.30, 2017

Nissan continues unveiling new Star Wars-themed vehicles, including the Titan ATM-6 at the LA Auto Show.

Nissan is clearly hoping the Force is with it. The Japanese automaker launched a tie-up with that galactic powerhouse, the Star Wars empire, last year, going so far as to build a full-size Tie Fighter for use at several of its auto show stands. Now, it’s upping the ante.

For the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show Nissan has created a full seven custom vehicles based on Star Wars lore, including one revealed to a crowd of journalists Thursday morning that blends a heavy duty laser cannon with one of its Titan pickups.

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There’s a new series of television and Internet commercials that show Nissan owners fantasizing about dodging dogfights and Storm Troopers. And beloved ‘droid characters like R2D2 and BB8 are helping sell Nissan products through the use of a new augmented reality system being installed at Nissan’s U.S. showrooms. (more…)

Nissan Gets its Kicks With New SUV

New crossover is “gateway” to the maker’s expanding line-up.

by on Nov.29, 2017

Nissan unveiled its new Kicks crossover vehicle targeted at millennials moving up a vehicle.

Nissan hopes buyers will get their Kicks on Route 66 – as well as I-405, the New York Throughway and pretty much everywhere else – in the maker’s newest sport-utility vehicle.

The 2018 Nissan Kicks becomes the latest in an expanding line-up of crossover models the Japanese maker has been rolling out and arrives at what would seem the perfect time, with utes now accounting for nearly half of the overall U.S. new vehicle market.

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Targeting millennials and others who might otherwise opt for an entry-level sedan or hatchback, the Nissan Kicks targets “buyers moving up,” and, said U.S. sales and marketing chief Dan Mohncke, will be “the new gateway to our CUV line-up.”

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Nissan Q2 Earnings Hurt by Inspection Debacle

Earnings hit by rising sales expenses in the U.S.

by on Nov.08, 2017

Nissan CEO HIroto Saikawa outlines the company's quarterly results in Japan today.

Nissan Motor Co. reported a 21.6% drop in operating profit for the second quarter. The $1.1 billion, or 128.5 billion yen, was the company’s smallest quarterly profit since 2014.

The Japanese automaker suffered in the quarter just ended from rising expenses and costs from improper final inspection procedures on products at its six plants in Japan. The failure to follow procedures forced the company to shut down the plants for several weeks to review the issue.

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The company admitted that uncertified technicians performed final checks for vehicles sold in Japan. The techs were used because some inspection steps had been transferred to other inspection lines, in violation of ministry rules. (more…)

Japan’s Auto Safety Scandal Spreads to Subaru

Automaker admits 30-year lapse; will recall over 250,000 vehicles.

by on Oct.27, 2017

Subaru CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga bowed to reporters to acknowledge his company's safety lapses.

Subaru acknowledged Friday it improperly inspected products sold on the Japanese market for over 30 years and will recall as many as 255,000 vehicles.

The company is the latest Japanese automaker to reveal faulty inspection practices, Nissan earlier this month reporting similar lapses. The announcement by Subaru comes at a time when the once-lofty image of Japanese industry has been severely tarnished by a raft of scandals that include rigging of fel economy numbers by Mitsubishi, the production of faulty airbags by supplier Takata, and the falsification of data by metals manufacturer Kobe Steel.

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“The final inspection process is very important and we acknowledge that we did not meet requirements,” Subaru Chief Executive Officer Yasuyuki Yoshinaga at a news conference on Friday in Tokyo. “We used the same process for more than 30 years without realizing that it did not meet ministry requirements.”

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Nissan Electrifies Tokyo Motor Show

Maker debuts two EV concepts, joins Formula E.

by on Oct.25, 2017

Nissan put a charge in to attendees at this year's Tokyo Motor Show with its new Leaf Nismo concept.

Auto shows are busy times for all involved, but Nissan appears to be ready to work itself into a real tizzy with all of its announcements coming from the biennial Tokyo Motor Show.

The automaker introduced the Canto, an electric concept vehicle aimed at younger buyers with a musical bent. Canto comes from the Latin “I sing” and this model employs different sounds depentined upon what it’s doing, such as accelerating, decelerating or backing up.

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“An important element of Nissan Intelligent Mobility is how the vehicle integrates with society, and a crucial component of that is sound,” said Daniele Schillaci, executive vice president for global marketing and sales, zero-emission vehicles and the battery business.   (more…)

Nissan IMx Concept Is Quicker Than GT-R – On Batteries

Electric supercar also gets 373 miles per charge.

by on Oct.25, 2017

Nissan's IMx Concept makes its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show. The electric vehicle concept has a range of 373 miles on a charge.

If the launch of the second-generation Nissan Leaf didn’t convince you that driving a battery-electric vehicle can be fun, the automaker is determined to change your mind with the new IMx concept it unveil today at the biennial Tokyo Motor Show.

The Nissan IMx concept smoothly churns out a hefty 516 pound-feet of torque, about 10% more than the automaker’s gasoline-powered supercar, the GT-R. And it hits maximum torque the moment the motors turn on, something that should translate into a neck-snapping launch. Oh, and if you’re still suffering from range anxiety, the Japanese automaker claims the IMx can deliver 373 miles per charge, or roughly 25% more than a Tesla Model S P100d.

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“The IMx zero-emission crossover concept vehicle embodies the future of Nissan Intelligent Mobility,” said Daniele Schillaci, the automaker’s executive vice president for global marketing and sales, zero-emission vehicles and the battery business, as he walked the audience at Tokyo’s Big Sight convention center through the features of the electric rocket. (more…)

Nissan Shutting Down Plants in Japan for Two Weeks

Company violated quality check rules.

by on Oct.19, 2017

The newly introduced next-gen Nissan Leaf is one of the vehicles impacted by the company's plant shutdown in Japan.

Nissan is shutting down its six manufacturing plants in Japan for two weeks to address issues surrounding product quality levels after a recall and the Kobe Steel problems.

The Japanese automaker will revise final inspection procedures on its assembly lines to ensure they meet the transport ministry’s requirements, the company said. The moves will impact less than 10% of Nissan vehicles manufactured in Japan each month.

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The company admitted that uncertified technicians performed final checks for vehicles sold in Japan. The techs were used because some inspection steps had been transferred to other inspection lines, in violation of ministry rules, according to Reuters. (more…)

List Grows as More Automakers Plan to Go Electric

Renault wants hybrids, EVs to generate half its sales by 2022.

by on Oct.06, 2017

Renault now plans to have electric vehicles comprise 50% of its sales by 2022.

French automaker Renault, a pioneer in the drive to electrify, now wants hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles to account for half of its global sales by 2022.

The carmaker is echoing the strategy of its Japanese alliance partner Nissan, which also sees a future increasingly dependent upon electric propulsion systems like the one used in its Leaf model, the world’s best-selling all-electric automobile. More broadly, some of the industry’s largest manufacturers, including General Motors and Volkswagen, as well as smaller and niche players such as Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and even Aston Martin, have in recent weeks announced similar plans to shift to electric propulsion.

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“We are confident we can turn upcoming … challenges into significant business opportunities,” said Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault, who also serves as chief executive of the Renault-Nissan Alliance. (more…)