• Oct 22nd 2009 at 6:31PM
  • 16
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn with Leaf EV - Click above for high-res image gallery

Quick, think of a hybrid automobile. Got it? Are you thinking of the Toyota Prius? Pretty much everyone instantly recognizes the well-known profile of the Prius, and it's by far the most popular fuel miser on the market. A good bit of Toyota's success with the Prius has been attributed to its unique look – some owners want everyone to know that they care about their environmental footprint, and the Prius currently accomplishes that better than any of its competitors.

Honda followed a similar path with the second-generation Insight hatchback, which some believe follows the form of the Prius a little too closely. According to Nissan head Carlos Ghosn, though, there's no chance that Japan's number three automaker will join that club. Speaking to Automotive News at the Tokyo Motor Show, Ghosn said:
We are not intending to play a leadership role in hybrids. One company already assumed leadership in the technology. We want leadership on EVs.
Obviously, the company that leads in hybrids is Toyota, and Nissan's intention is to score a similar position in the world of pure electric automobiles. The opening salvo on that front will be the upcoming Nissan Leaf, which is slated to hit the market about a year from now, and the company has ambitious plans for its following act. We'll know if Ghosn's plan is successful or not about five years from now. Stay tuned.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req'd]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ghosn -- and lv10 -- have it exactly right. EV is by far the most reasonable technology to target. We have the already existing distribution network, the transfer of pollution reduction to centralized installations where it can actually be dealt with, the immediate increase in efficiency and reduction of pollution, the relative maturity of electric drivetrain components, the close coupling between controllers and motors, the wide availability of raw materials, and, in the form of sunlight, an essentially infinite supply of power.

      The problem is batteries; expensive, often poisonous, heavy, and short-lived.

      If we can find a non-polluting, long-lasting, reasonably cost-effective means to store electrical energy in the vehicle, we're golden. Ultracapacitors are the obvious candidates, but so far, too far down the power curve. That capacitance times voltage squared formula is a killer.

      Hydrogen, ethanol, gasoline, diesel... this stuff is all noise at the edge of a technology about to transition very sharply. It is simply a mark of corporate incompetence when you see a company championing any of them for the future. EVs are it; the objective facts are perfectly clear.

      • 5 Years Ago
      I think Nissan is betting the green crowd continues to be drawn to "different" styling.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Actually keep the change has good points. BTW global warming is not proven, nor does it have lots of supporting evidence like evolution. And as for oil depletion.. that's made up, new technologies will always allow us to dig deeper or find new reservoirs of oil. I bet most of you don't even know about the oil in Canada. It has 80% of the world's known oil. I still support an EV automobile infrastructure, but they need to somehow make batteries more efficient and less of a pollutant. If our global markets and governments allow such a thing.. maybe we can use solar, hydrothermal, wind energy. For now oil is better.
      • 5 Years Ago
      saving the planet from what?

      CO2 feeds all green things. It is the basis for photosynthesis. Warmer weather encourages more growth and longer growing seasons to feed more people. Sea levels a few inches higher, a few feet higher, nature couldn't care less about. Water is good. Ice not so much. When the next ice age comes, most life on the planet will die. CO2 may be our only hope.

      If you want to "save" the planet, stop buying mercury filled light bulbs and toxic lithium ion batteries.
        • 5 Years Ago
        :: You miss the salient point.

        No, sir, I did not. You are simply squirming.

        :: This whole demonization of the gas car
        :: is being framed as a "save the planet" measure.

        Which is exactly what it is, in the sense that it is aimed at keeping the planet in a compatible-with-us state reasonably similar to, or better than, the one it is in now. CO2 isn't the definitive issue. There are many issues. Particulates and various gasses. Limited oil reserves. Political / economic problems.

        Ground EVs would address the problem strongly in the short term by providing great reduction in emissions, and in the long term, by providing 100% elimination of emissions from ground vehicles and reducing the need for the wasteful process of burning petrochemicals. There is every reason to think that seagoing vessels will benefit as well, as they have time, sunlight, and can carry both wind and solar power acquisition facilities. Perhaps aircraft too, though that's the toughest thing to change because of the amount of power and weight we're talking about.

        And BTW, the fact that LA has inversions doesn't address the issue that what's caught in the inversion is *toxic*; gasoline and diesel vehicles (and industry) foul the atmosphere with all manner of things, CO2 *completely* aside. Try breathing car exhaust for a few minutes if you don't believe me. It won't be the carbon dioxide that kills you, either. We have inversions here, too (a valley in NE Montana), but because it's a rural area without significant emissions, the nature of the inversion is completely different and usually a darned sight less problematic, barring incoming particulates from somewhere else.

        > The planet, nor the nature that resides in it, cares,
        > so to fundamentally alter how we move from A to B
        > under the guise of "saving the planet" is intellectually
        > disingenuous at best, and highly suspect at worst.

        And *again*, "save the planet" is not about preserving the planet for itself in some random state; it is about preserving the present environment for us with minimal negative changes. It is only your interpretation of the argument which is disingenuous. If we don't transition from petrochemical fueled vehicles, the environment will indeed become continually more hostile, and this will hurt us both directly and indirectly. The problems will come in many forms. More pollution. More political entanglement. Expenditure of natural resources. Transport shortages. All the things consequent when transport is short.

        There's no intelligent argument to be made in favor of keeping the status quo in this regard. We need - not want, but *need* - to get off the petroleum teat. Every entity that delays this is culpable in the consequences, which are in no way as speculative as what will happen if CO2 keeps increasing. It isn't an untried, untested theory of global warming we're talking about. We *know* gasoline and diesel fueled vehicle exhaust is toxic; we *know* we need petrochemicals in an extraordinarily wide range of non-burning roles; we *know* dependence upon the middle east has bred political turmoil and outright war; we *know* that transport is becoming a very expensive part of daily living; we *know* that poor countries are being locked out of the benefits that inexpensive transport brings.

        No amount of reshuffling "save the planet is silly because the planet will continue regardless" will save your position. We're trying to maintain the environment's state in, or improve it to better than, the extant condition, by abandoning use of technologies that are *proven* to be degrading the situation. It needs to be done. EVs are the best way to do it. End of story.

        • 5 Years Ago
        The planet doesn't care about any of that. Maybe people do, but the planet doesn't. Did you know that the ocean releases more oil every year than all the oil spills combined? Oil is a natural product. Nature produces it and reabsorbs it in huge amounts.

        LA has smog because it experiences temperature inversion due to the topography. Nature doesn't care about smog either or the complaints of some people in LA.

        IN short, the planet doesn't care. It will be here long after we are gone, and we might be gone by the next ice age when a sheet of ice several miles thick covers the globe.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes, and the solar system doesn't "care" about the planet, and the universe doesn't "care" about the solar system. So what. You're being ridiculous.

        Sensible people converse about how to enable a continued, and hopefully enhanced, ability for us to live here in such a way as to make our lives equally or more pleasant, and to do the least damage to the environment and the other life forms so future generations have a decent opportunity do the same.

        To rant about what "the planet wants" as if you were actually contributing usefully to the conversation is straight-up disingenuous. Pitiful, really.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Saving the planet from the crud that's hanging in the air over Los Angeles, Mexico City, New York; saving the planet from depletion of petroleum which we can (and do) use for many things other than setting it on fire, no matter how efficiently; eliminating this toxic relationship we have forged with middle eastern countries; reducing the instantaneous transport volume of petrochemicals by orders of magnitude, and consequently also the number of oil and other petrochemical spills and accidents.

        CO2 isn't the only issue, if in fact it's an issue at all. Current transport technology needs to go away because it is definitely problematic on numerous fronts.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Your point about plants' photosynthesis is true but you forgot to notice the millions and millions of trees that are cut down each year in order to make way for our freeways, houses, etc and etc. In short time, there will be no plant that will be able to convert all the amount of CO2 that we release each year.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes, but how does the observation that we have too many roads address the narrative that electric cars save the planet? Electric cars need roads too, or in fact, will just use our current roads. I don't need to drive through the rain forest to get to work. The narrative for electric cars is that they produce no CO2. How does that help the planet? It doesn't. The planet doesn't care. If we are going to go from 400 miles to a tank to 100 miles at best, a better excuse has to be found. And it can't use the word green.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I thought of the Escape Hybrid. Whoops.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Is there anyone living in cold areas of the planet anymore? I just can't see an all ev cars in cold snowy canadian winter. Batteries go cold feet (no pun intended) when celsius go down below... Even hybrid don't score well in winter. Want will be the range of the leaf at -25c ?
        • 5 Years Ago
        That's why ultracap research is so important. UCs don't use chemical processes to store energy; so they respond entirely differently to cold. Other tech, such as fuel cells, are still chemical in nature but some can (must!) self-heat; and of course it's always possible to spend some energy actually heating components that need it, and insulation can serve a very useful role there so it doesn't take a huge amount of energy to get the heating done. Right now, mainly because UCs are low capacity compared to batteries, most system designs are hybrid; UCs *and* batteries working together. UCs for surge draws like cold starts, high incoming current storage (like regenerative braking), batteries for longer term energy storage. If and when we get UCs that store power in amounts comparable to batteries, the whole cold problem will go away.

        It gets cold enough here in NE Montana that our cars have engine block heaters and oil pan heaters and battery heaters. -40º is cold enough to change the entire startup regime of almost any vehicle. Compensation include garages (which tend to completely solve the problem, btw), The aforesaid vehicle component heaters, and lately, UCs. The cranking power available from a UC that is simply in parallel with your normal battery can provide a significant boost to initial turnover, when the battery is only capable of providing current in relatively small amounts. The UC charges, you turn the engine over smartly using high levels of energy *from* the UC, and typically, the engine will start right up. If not, you wait a bit while the UC recharges from the battery, then try again.

        Ultracapacitors are going to be critical to this whole EV thing on one level or another; where they fit best will be determined by just how much energy they can store.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I thought of the Tahoe hybrid..
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