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Nissan safety and environmental technology
Scanning in space and time
Processing present and past

Simple fuel efficiency measures

Nissan announced last August that all future new models and current models scheduled for minor product freshenings, will be equipped with a fuel efficiency gauge. Current model range includes the Skyline, Lafesta and Atlas in Japan, and the Altima and Infinity G35 in the U.S.

Based on the carmaker's trials, drivers tended to improve their eco-driving habits with the real-time fuel-efficiency readings. Improvements also included smoother acceleration and braking, which can enhance fuel-efficiency by an average 10%.

In January 2007, Nissan introduced the eco-driving information service through its CARWINGS navigation system. It includes the online listing of the average fuel-efficiency of CARWINGS members via monthly rankings and weekly web updates on green driving techniques.

The introduction of the fuel efficiency gauge is part of the Nissan Green Program 2010.

Digital numeric display with instant fuel-efficiency gauge on the Lafesta model in Japan.

 

APN,
14 November 2007.

Nissan Motor Company is certainly not the only carmaker who is investing in safety-dedicated research and development. This is one of the major product differentiating arguments in consumers minds.

Again, Nissan is not the only environment-conscious automaker. Developing frugal engines and alternative powertrains is also a survival must for any car manufacturer when petrol prices approach the US$100/barrel.

Yet, Nissan's recent technology presentations and updates showed an interesting multi-angled approach to safety and environment challenges.

Over the last few months, these technical updates didn't simply show separate concepts of safety and engine research topics, but a network of inter-related subjects. Safety with fuel economy and environment care.

In one presentation, the slip hazard warning system does not simply restrict itself to scanning real-time data gathered for the usual sensors of wheel speed, steering wheel position, brakes activation, engine load and different force loads exerted on the body.

All these data, which cover the car in its geographical position in each time spot, are analysed and compared with statistical feed from historical records of slippery areas, based on cumulative data on accident points reported from past years.

One can imagine the coverage of this system as a horizontal line moving in space, with data flowing from the car here and now, at every fraction of a second, and a vertical line going up in time, to records of accidents that happened in the same space where the car is moving, but a month, a year or maybe several years ago. Statistics can especially indicate probabilities and risk factors depending on times of the year, temperature levels and so on.

Thanks to the combination of sensors, telematics, data centres, safety in space, here, and time, now and in the past... is possible. Nissan is effectively working on feasibility studies for future commercial application of such a system.

But this is only one of several technical presentations done by Nissan recently, including those presented with its new models and concepts cars at the 40th Tokyo motor show (October 26 and November 11, with 1,425,800 visits).

In these few pages (hyperlinked in the opposite index), Motion Trends presents some of Nissan's key technologies which promise to make driving easier, safer and more entertaining.

To put some of these technologies in their context, you can also visit our pages about Nissan's exhibits at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, such as the new GT-R supercar, the intriguing  Pivo 2, the creative NV200, the funny Round Box or the elegant Intima concept cars. The third Japanese carmaker imbedded in some of these exhibits a number of technologies, such as the Safety Shield concept and its Around View Monitor (AVM), the Distance Control Assist System (DCAS, more in the following box), and others.

Safety approach

Vehicle safety always starts from accident avoidance (active safety)... to protection, if it has to happen (passive safety).

Protection also means limiting injuries for drivers, passengers and pedestrians, or even heightening awareness of traffic safety.

Nissan's approach begins by continually analysing actual traffic accident data involving Nissan vehicles in Japan.

With this real world perspective, Nissan has set the goal of halving the number of traffic accident fatalities and serious injuries involving Nissan vehicles in Japan by 2015, compared with 1995.

In addition to enhancing safety functions at the vehicle level and engaging in educational activities to raise people's awareness of traffic safety, Nissan has launched the SKY Project that uses Intelligent Transport System (ITS) technologies (see ASV-4, Slip-Hazard Warning system, drink-driving prevention system) to ease traffic congestion and improve safety.

In this comprehensive approach, Nissan identifies six driving risks / accidents areas, from "pre-risk" to "post accident."

Over these six areas, Nissan's Safety Shield focuses on the development of systems that first provide drivers with the appropriate information, then allow the vehicles to react accurately to his or her intentions. Should an accident become unavoidable, the appropriate systems intervene to help minimise injuries and damage.

The safety shield concept includes Nissan's new Distance Control Assist System (DCAS). It uses a radar sensor mounted at the front of the vehicle, which measures the distance to the vehicle ahead, as well as the preceding vehicle's relative speed. This combination of information assists the Nissan driver in maintaining a suitable distance when following another vehicle.

If the driver is not pressing the accelerator, the DCAS smoothly applies the brakes when the Nissan approaches another car too closely. If the Nissan driver is pressing the accelerator and approaches another car too quickly, the system generates a force to lift the pedal, assisting the driver in releasing the accelerator.

When the DCAS judges that braking is necessary by the driver because the preceding vehicle has slowed down, it issues audible and visual alerts. The system also generates force to lift the accelerator pedal, helping the driver switch to the brake pedal.

Other Nissan safety technologies covered in this report include the new pop-up engine hood design, the Around View Monitor, the Slip-Hazard Warning system and the drink-driving prevention system.

Environment - On the environmental side, Nissan has set three priorities: reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, cleaner emissions and recycling of resources.

To help curb atmospheric emissions of CO2, recognised as a principal cause of global warming, Nissan elaborated a long-term technical roadmap which can be resumed by: providing the right technology to the right market at the right time, and with the right value to the customer.

Like most other car manufacturers, Nissan believes that internal combustion (IC) engines (gasoline and diesel) will continue to be the mainstream power source of vehicles globally in the short-to-medium term.

To help reduce CO2, emissions, Nissan is promoting the early and widespread application of technologies for improving the fuel economy of IC engines, while intensifying its efforts to develop electric-powered vehicle (EV) technology. It plans to introduce electric vehicles starting in Japan during the early part of the next decade.

In the mean time, Nissan is developing other technologies to improve the internal combustion engine environmental performance. One of the new technologies addresses the petrol engines, with Nissan's Variable Valve Event and Lift (VVEL) system, while on the diesel front, the Nissan Green Program 2010 promises the introduction of clean diesel vehicles in Japan, North America and China by fiscal year 2010 (1st April 2010 to 31st March 2011).

As far as recycling in concerned, and beginning with the Nissan March (released in fiscal year 2001) and continuing with the Cube, Lafesta and all new models launched since 2005, 95% of the vehicle parts have been recyclable. In fiscal year 2006, the effective recycling rate for end-of-life Nissan vehicles reached 95.2% by weight. These recyclability rate is calculated based on the guideline issued by Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Inc. in 1998 concerning the definition and method of calculating the recyclability rate of new cars.

For electric power, the key to widespread use of electric-powered vehicles are the battery, motor and the inverter that controls the motor. Nissan claims that its compact lithium-ion battery technology provides batteries with twice as much energy compared with a conventional cylindrical battery of the same type (see the Pivo 2 concept car), while ensuring safer operation due to the use of chemically stable spinal-structured manganese for the electrode material.

A new company was recently jointly established with NEC Corporation - with the goal of significantly enhancing future battery performance and reducing costs. Nissan intends to implement field tests of EV by FY2010 prior to product launch with a target of early next decade.

The Pivo 2 concept car has also an 3D Motor in each wheel, allowing it to turn through 90 degrees and to drive sideways as well as forward. The 3D Motor is a new disc-type motor that achieves a great increase in power density over conventional motors. The thin disc shape of the 3D motor allows it to be housed inside a wheel assembly.

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