Nissan is a company that is constantly innovating. Whether it’s developing and delivering technical features to cars that are available in showrooms right now or looking at advancements still years into the future, Nissan is there.
With the automotive landscape rapidly changing through electrification and driver assistance, Nissan’s innovations are more important than ever. Here are just a few of them from recent years:
The concept of a variable compression engine has been around for decades, but it was only Nissan that used its leading technology to be the first manufacturer to bring the technology to market.
Often, compression ratio is a compromise between two opposing ideals – performance and efficiency. But with Nissan’s VC-Turbo engine, used in the e-POWER hybrid setup, you can go both ways. Internally, it did not have connecting rods to connect the pistons to the crankshaft, instead using a complex set of multi-link devices operated by an engine.
With these, the pistons can adopt different top dead center (TDC) and bottom dead center (BDC) positions, providing a compression ratio as low as 14:1 for best efficiency, or as high as 8:1 for better performance.
The human brain is an amazing thing, but in terms of response times, there is still room for improvement. This is where Nissan’s Brain-to-Vehicle technology – the world’s first system that can detect brain activity related to driving – was born.
Intended for a fully automated future, the system works through a skull cap worn by the driver. This picks up the driver’s intentions before they can initiate ‘intentional movements’ (e.g. steering or accelerator inputs) and puts them into action. The system can react half a second faster than normal human response time.
This can be used in a number of ways. In autopilot mode, for example, the car can detect driver discomfort and make the necessary adjustments to driving style to address this. Or in manual mode on zigzag roads, Brain-to-Vehicle’s innovative feedback helps responsive riders perform better than they could if hand and foot control input were to be taken.
First mass-market EV
Back in 2010, there wasn’t really a market for electric cars. There are a lot more specialized options available and a handful of pretty rough four-wheelers – often powered by lead-acid batteries – and not much else. In this combustion-driven motoring scene, Nissan helped kickstart an electric revolution with the Leaf.
The Leaf arrives on the market with a range of more than 100 miles and the ability to quickly charge using the extensive public charger network that Nissan has played a role in establishing. Thereafter, innovation continued throughout the life of the first-generation Leaf, helping to maintain the vehicle’s impressive sales momentum. From the world’s first car-to-home energy-sharing system to larger batteries that deliver longer range and more efficiency, Nissan has been constantly improving the Leaf, but by 2017 it’s working hard. face increasing competition.
Then it’s time for a brand new Leaf, with twice the range of the original model from a more power-hungry battery pack and useful features like assistive tech. ProPILOT driving and ‘e-Pedal’ driving system.
In the second generation, the Leaf continues to attract buyers, with production exceeding 500,000 units in 2020.
A solid state future
Huge advances have been made in the field of all-electric vehicles since Nissan launched the Leaf just over a decade ago. However, the biggest possible leap is yet to come – solid-state batteries.
Instead of the liquid electrolyte used in the cells of lithium-ion batteries, solid-state devices use thin, solid electrolytes typically made from solid ceramics or polymers. This won’t make much sense to the casual driver, but the benefits of this setup are much easier to understand: lighter, cheaper solid-state batteries due to the use of less exotic raw materials in construction. their own and they charge considerably. faster.
There are many challenges involved in making solid-state batteries a reality for production electric vehicles, but Nissan has been ahead in addressing these issues. In early 2022, a solid-state prototype production facility was established at the Nissan Research Center in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.
Here, Nissan engineers will use lessons learned from battery production with the aim of reducing production costs to the point where electric vehicles cost the same as their internal combustion engine counterparts. It will help Nissan achieve its goal of launching a solid-body vehicle by 2028.
From the Earth to the Moon
Nissan’s e-4ORCE all-wheel drive technology is perhaps best known for its use in the powerful R35 GT-R and more recently the all-electric Ariya. The software behind the E-4ORCE could eventually extend beyond the world’s road network – beyond, even, beyond the stratosphere.
In research into Moon voyages for future missions to the Moon, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) turned to Nissan’s engineering expertise to see what e-4ORCE could be. used to increase traction on the rocky, undulating terrain of the Earth’s only natural. satellite.
On a prototype driving vehicle, the e-4ORCE helps to change the output of each motor wheel independently, allowing the vehicle to tackle terrains that would otherwise bring it to a halt on the road. The benefits of a partnership like this go both ways, with Nissan being able to apply lessons learned from partnering with third parties to its road cars.
So in the future, your Nissan vehicle can benefit from technology that is – quite literally – out of this world.