Nissan has announced a smorgasbord of new powertrain and technology innovations this week, and most of them are heading to production cars in the near future.
Nissan began by announcing a new version of its continuously variable automatic transmission, called XTRONIC. The new transmission is designed for vehicles with engines displacing between 2.0 and 3.5 liters, and will debut on a production car in the U.S. in 2012 before launching globally.
The new CVT is a claimed 10 percent more fuel efficient than prior Nissan CVTs. The pulleys now have a greater ratio range, meaning that the transmission can provide even lower ratios for quick starts and higher ratios for economical highway cruising. A new oil pump and revisions to many of the CVT’s internal components have reduced friction by a claimed 40 percent. And the torque converter now locks up over a broader range of vehicle speeds, promoting efficiency.
New hybrid system
Nissan also announced a new hybrid-drive system for front-wheel-drive vehicles. It launches in a “new hybrid vehicle” in the U.S. in 2013, and will later debut globally.
The hybrid combines a supercharged 2.5-liter inline-four engine with the aforementioned XTRONIC CVT and an integrated electric motor. Power is stored in a lithium-ion battery pack. Nissan says the drivetrain provides the performance of a 3.5-liter engine but with significantly reduced fuel consumption.
Wireless Charging System
Nissan Leaf drivers who are tired of hauling around hefty charging cables will be pleased to hear that Nissan is developing a wireless charging system. The system consists of an induction pad placed on the ground (for instance in your garage) and a receiving unit in the underside of the Leaf. When the car is parked over the charging pad, electromagnetic induction charges the car’s battery.
The charging process is reportedly 80 to 90 percent energy efficient. There’s no word on when this might debut.
Fuel Cell Stack
Nissan says its newest version of a fuel-cell stack has 2.5 times more energy density than prior designs. That means the membrane electrode assembly, which converts hydrogen fuel to electricity, is more significantly more efficient and powerful.
Nissan claims that this revised fuel cell stack is one-sixth the cost of the version it debuted in 2005, and uses 75 percent less platinum. The company claims that a fuel cell could easily be integrated into an existing electric car like the Leaf. Nissan says clean hydrogen-powered cars are “only a doorstep away.”
Multi-Sensing System with Rear Camera
The first of three safety technologies announced by Nissan, the Multi-Sensing System uses the car’s existing backup camera to provide three safety features. The camera can detect other cars in the vehicle’s blind spot, sounding a buzzer or illuminating a warning light for a driver. It can monitor road markings and sound an alarm if the driver drifts out of the current lane without signaling. It also can detect moving objects when the vehicle is reversing and sound an alarm if, say, a pedestrian walks behind the car.
These features are slated to appear on the Japanese-market Elgrand (the Nissan Quest on our shores) by November and will roll-out globally from 2012.
Acceleration Suppression for Pedal Misapplication
Nissan says this awkwardly named technology will help prevent “collisions with obstacles such as walls.” It works using the car’s Around View Monitor, which has four cameras. When the system detects that the car is in a parking lot, it automatically softens throttle response so drivers don’t accidentally launch their car into a parking barrier or nail salon. The system also can automatically apply the brakes if it detects that the driver is about to collide with an obstacle while parking. Nissan says this system will go into production within the next two years.
Predictive Forward Collision Warning System
A sensor at the front of the car continually measures the closing speed between vehicles. If it determines that the driver is likely to rear-end another vehicle or hit an object, the system will sound an alarm, display a warning message, and automatically tighten the seatbelts. Nissan doesn’t specify how soon this will go into production, but many other manufacturers — notably Volvo with City Safety — already offer similar collision-mitigation tech.