Nissan’s expanded vision of its electrified brand identity was showcased in the 46th Tokyo Motor show, where they unveiled two new concept cars, the Ariya Concept and the IMk which are the latest design icons of Nissan Intelligent Mobility.
The Ariya Concept is a family-size CUV that greatly impressed me with its fully flat floor with a spacious cabin, a minimalist but high-tech dashboard, wide front fenders, and streamlined LED headlights. It is equipped with ProPILOT 2.0 which is Nissan’s award-winning driver assistance system that allows completely hands-off driving as you cruise on a single lane.
The IMk which features the ProPILOT 2.0 as well, is an ideal compact urban commuter. I believe it would be a perfect replacement to a kei-car, which is very popular in Japan. The interior is spacious and comfortable with a minimalist dashboard void of physical controls aside from the steering wheel and the ignition button. The IMk has so much torque, so unlike the common kei-cars you see around Japan that make so much noise and are slow on the get-go, the IMk is quiet and will accelerate very briskly and effortlessly.
Other cars on display were the new Nissan Skyline also featuring ProPILOT 2, The Nissan Serena, which is Nissan’s most popular minivan equipped with ePOWER system, Nissan Dayz, the first commuter car equipped with ProPILOT, and the newest LEAF NISMO RC, a twin-electric motor racing machine representing Nissan Intelligent Power and Nissan LEAF e+ that has zero emissions. I was able to test both cars and I am hoping that they bring them to the Philippines. The ePower hybrid system would work great in the Philippines because the e-Power system allows you to enjoy the benefits of an EV without the need to charge the battery separately. And even better is that it delivers a great amount of torque instantaneously with very smooth acceleration and with great fuel efficiency comparable to other conventional hybrids. E-power actually borrows the perfected EV technology from the LEAF and added a gasoline engine to charge the battery when needed, thus eliminating an external charger. Imagine having a full electric motor with wheels that are driven by an electric motor with a high output battery and a power train that is integrated with a gasoline engine, power generator, and inverter. The gasoline engine is not connected to the wheels – it only charges the battery. The engine is the power source, rather than just the battery like other EV’s. This system would work so well in the Philippines because we have one of the highest electricity rates in the world, and you won’t need to spend an additional cent on electricity with this technology. I was able to test the new ePower Note on the track, which is only sold in Japan and the e-Power Serena and e-Power Dayz on the public roads, and they drove so well.
Aside from the motor show, Nissan Philippines had a lot in store for our media group. They surprised the media by handing us the keys to the new Nissan Skyline (the Infiniti Q50 in the North American market) which is equipped with the updated ProPILOT 2.0 technology. According to Nissan, ProPilot 2.0 delivers the world’s first driver assistance system to combine navigated highway driving with hands-off single-lane driving capabilities. We learned a lot about the direction that Nissan is going, the technology that they are using, and their vision on focusing on electrification for the future of mobility worldwide.
I have tested all versions of the Leaf beginning with the 1st generation which had a 24 kWh lithium-ion battery to the upgraded one with a 30 kWh battery. They both drove well but I wasn’t so keen on the design, limited range, and space management. Then I got to test the very desirable 2nd generation Leaf which had a larger capacity battery at 40 kWh, and an all-new good-looking redesign which made it a more convincing alternative to a standard compact car. I was already impressed with the new found power, range, and comfort until I tested the 62 kWh Plus model earlier this year which extended range by over 40% while producing significantly more power by 45% combined with a quicker charger and even more standard equipment, which completely convinced me that I could definitely live and enjoy a LEAF as a practical daily driver.
At Nissan’s testing grounds, they had a new high performance dual-motor LEAF prototype with all wheel drive, 304 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque! It handled extremely well, and had great grip combined with the active traction control especially in the wet.
The most exciting part of the track experience was being able to ride shotgun with champion race car driver Tomonobu Fujii in the Nissan Leaf NISMO RC_02 which has dual electric motors producing 240 kW (322 hp), All-wheel drive, with combined torque of a whopping 472 lb-ft (640 Nm) and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.9 seconds!
Furthermore, the launch of next season’s visually and dynamically exciting Formula-E entry with its new red, white and black kimono-inspired design (a kimono is a symbol of longevity and good fortune), got me really excited. Alfonso Albaisa, who is Nissan’s senior VP for global design said: “as we approach the beginning of our second season of Formula-E competition, our design team proposed a new look, one that celebrates our Japanese heritage and vibrant technology DNA, we used our iconic Nissan racing red, black and white colors layered diagonally in a kimono pattern, which creates a dynamic and powerful impression.”
Sebastian Buemi and Oliver Rowland are the collaborative powerhouses behind the wheel for the Nissan e.dams team. They were there to proudly launch the new race car that they will pilot in season 6. They were successful in season 5, despite being their first inaugural season as teammates to race in Formula E, finishing second in the championship. They also had six podium finishes in the last five races, six pole positions which was the most for any team and sixteen combined Super Pole qualifying appearances making Nissan e.dams the best qualifying team in the Championship! They ended the season with their first victory in New York in the final race weekend. Having met them was surreal because I knew of Buemi when he was racing in Formula 1, watching him race from the bleachers and now here I was standing shoulder to shoulder (in my case, my head to their shoulders) with Seb and Oli. Truly an amazing experience!!!