Even though Nissan has made an effort to carve out a place for itself in the Hybrid market, according to Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, zero emission vehicles are the future of the company. To that end, Nissan has been running tests on an electric version of the compact Cube in preparation of an EV to produced and sold in Japan and the U.S. in 2010. Those that are interested in Electric Vehicles but not the styling of the Cube can rejoice in the news that according to Nissan the new vehicle will not be based on the styling of any currently produced model.
The hang-up for the production of most electric vehicles is the weight and size of engineering the batteries. In the Cube prototype the three battery units weighing 220 pounds each are located under the rear seats which result in the rear passengers being placed in an awkward position that is higher than normal and not comfortable. Presumably since the Cube is only being used to test the mechanics, that will not be an issue in the production model. Each unit contains 24 lithium-ion batteries powering the equivalent of a 107 horsepower electric motor. The prototype fitted to the Cube’s shell can accelerate to 60 in about 13sec, but according to Nissan, the finished actual production model will reach that same speed in under 5 seconds. Nissan’s goal is for a driving range of 100-150 miles after a full charge, which takes six to eight hours. Right now in the prototype the range is a respectable 62 and 75 miles, depending on which electronics are on, such as AC. An 80% charge can be had in just 30-60 minutes.
To achieve their goals, Nissan is focused on lithium-ion battery technology that is half the weight and significantly better than nickle metal hydride cells used currently. Li-ion batteries have been avoided by Honda and Toyota in their hybrids for concerns over safety, but Nissan is confident that it will be able to successfully navigate any potential engineering hurdles in time for 2010.
Nissan’s plan to unveil their EV in 2010 is the same year GM’s Volt and a host of other automakers’ fuel-efficient offerings will be offered; giving potential buyers lots of options.