Earlier this week Nissan unveiled a preview of its autonomous car technology with the Nissan IDS. Now, according to the Daily Kanban website, it’s likely that large chunks of the IDS will make up the 2018 Nissan Leaf. The writer of that piece, Bertel Schmitt, was invited to Nissan for an all day briefing of technology in the IDS, and came away convinced that Nissan wouldn’t have done that for a concept car if they weren’t intending to use this technology in a production vehicle.
In 2013 Nissan did repeatedly pledge that by 2020 they’ll deliver on a zero-emissions-zero-fatalities pledge with self driving car technology. While I expressed doubt the other day over the IDS, because honestly when do technology developments end up where the predictions suggest, Nissan is repeating the pledge this year and is therefore piling up the expectations that they’ll deliver on self driving cars.
Just so you understand how to interpret the following, this is how Daily Kanban began its piece:
Last Friday, a small, hand-picked group of journalists was allowed into Nissan’s holy technology grail, the Advanced Technology Center in Atsugi, a town in the mountains southwest of Tokyo. It was the first time that the secretive center opened its doors to nosy outside observers. Ostensibly, the occasion was the Nissan IDS Concept vehicle that goes on display today at the Tokyo Motor Show. Of course, nobody in his right mind allows journalists into a high-security tech center for a day, just to show off a silly concept car, and it quickly became clear that what we saw was the future Nissan LEAF in drag. It is a fair guess that large parts of the IDS Concept will be seen again when the 2nd generation Leaf arrives.
In other words, the idea that the Nissan IDS is a preview of the 2018 Leaf is educated guesswork that I find compelling enough to write about.
The 60 kiloWatt-hour pack in the Nissan IDS fits in the same 2D footprint as the Leaf battery pack. It is taller however, but that the footprint is the same suggests Nissan will be supplying 60 kiloWatt-hours by the 2018 model year.
A 60 kWh pack would provide about 210 miles range by EPA standards. At least that’s the analogy we can draw from the EPA range of the 60 kWh Tesla Model S. The Leaf might be able to deliver more range because it’s a lighter car.
The Leaf might grow even lighter if Nissan is able to start mass production of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic going. The Nissan IDS has several CFRP components. It is CFRP technology that allowed the BMW i3 to deliver 80+ mile range on just 21 kiloWatt-hours of battery capacity.
A light-weighted Leaf (due to CFRP) and a 60 kWh pack might actually deliver more range than the Tesla Model S did with 60 kWh. The Daily Kanban suggested 300 miles range, but we won’t know until it happens.
As backup for that suggestion, Daily Kanban showed a slide from Nissan talking about range, showing the 24 kWh and 30 kWh Leaf’s, and a “Future” Leaf with over 500 km range. Last summer Nissan did show a video of a Leaf with over 500 km range (338 miles) at a shareholders meeting.
The new battery uses Nickel-Mangan-Cobalt chemistry on the cathode side, and a graphite anode.
The battery technology seemed to have been based on a battery patent several companies licensed from Argonne National Labs. That patent was behind Envia Systems claims (since disproved) that they’d developed 400 Wh/kg battery technology. While Envia Systems turned into a dud, the technology was real and had been licensed to other companies including GM and LG Chem. Given that several companies, including GM, are promising EV’s in 2016-2018 with much longer driving range, it would seem LG Chem has a real battery technology breakthrough on their hands.
Historically Nissan has built its own batteries in cooperation with a Japanese manufacturer (whose name escapes me right now), and the Renault side of the alliance has used LG Chem batteries. The Daily Kanban had this to say:
The supplier of the new battery was treated as a state secret last Friday. While I was working the Renault/Nissan Alliance dinner on Tuesday night, a leading Alliance engineer told me that the battery will be built “by us and LG Chem.” Then, two alarmed handlers stopped the discussion.
A few months ago I remember reading a report that internal discussions at Nissan-Renault pointed towards Nissan turning to LG Chem as its battery supplier, in preference to Nissan’s existing battery relationship. I then lost track of that report. In any case, it’s possible that Nissan will turn to LG Chem, yes?
Nissan appears to be readying 100 kiloWatt CHAdeMO as well. That’s according to another slide.
Kia claims the Soul EV already supports 100 kW CHAdeMO charging, but very few of those stations exist anywhere in the world. A 100 kW charging rate is important for longer range electric cars because of the relative charging time. Where 50 kW charging is sub-1-hour on a 30 kWh car, expand the pack to 60 kWh or more and 50 kW charging becomes an almost 2 hour full recharge time which is no longer fast charging. For long distance travel, the charging speed needs to be as fast as possible.
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