By on March 9, 2010

By the end of the year, Nissan will, a bit belatedly, introduce their total plug-in, not range extended, all electric Leaf. They will also open a huge data center.

According to The Nikkei [sub], the location and other stats of the data center are strictly confidential. “But sources close to the company say the facility is equipped with quake protection and information-leak prevention systems so powerful it could even handle state secrets.”  What do they need it for?

Nissan supposedly wants take a completely new way of selling vehicles. They want to use what they call an “iPod model” in the car industry.

“From now on, we will market cars based on the value of the information they provide,” said Toru Futami, expert leader at Nissan’s IT & ITS engineering department to the Nikkei.

Details are as shady as the exact location of the data center. The Nikkei could divine that “by connecting the facility and its cars through a high-speed wireless network, Nissan is able to receive driving information in real time. The system enables the driver to easily get information about such things as traffic jams and the location of charging stations.” Hmm. Big deal. Here’s another one:

“Because the data center stores a vast amount of information, including the number of times the car battery has been recharged, drivers will be able to calculate such things as how many more years a battery can be used and what value to place on it when the car is resold.” Nothing you need a big data center for, and nothing that would revolutionize the car market.

Now if Nissan could charge the Leaf while driving, that would be something. Don’t laugh. Theoretically possible. But then, reality sets in: Charging a Blackberry via WiFi in 3 hours is not the same as charging a 24kWh brute of a battery. So what do they really need that data center for?

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22 Comments on “Nissan To Use iPod Model To Market Their Leaf...”


  • avatar
    crash sled

    “According to The Nikkei [sub], the location and other stats of the data center are strictly confidential. “But sources close to the company say the facility is equipped with quake protection and information-leak prevention systems so powerful it could even handle state secrets.”

    .
    .

    Ha! The Chicoms will hack into this thing for sport. It’ll be no more than a junior high IT exercise for ‘em.

  • avatar
    Revver

    What do they need the data center for? Good question. But Nissan seems to be putting the cart before the horse in that: here comes an all electric plug in before a plug-in infrastructure is in place. So, there’s a missing piece to this story.

    Where is Better Place in all this? You know, the guys who dreamt up the “car / power source / iPod” theory and presented it to Nissan/Renault. Seems like they’ve been frozen out while Nissan pursues its own deals directly with local energy providers. Is this a deal where your energy bill for the car will be centralized by Nissan for über customer convenience? That would necessitate a fairly robust data center. But given that black-ops spy shot, we could be getting a glimpse into a secret center harvesting Carlos Ghosn clones. Kinda hard to say.

    Hopefully TTAC can come up with their own Deep Throat to uncover this mystery.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    “Because the data center stores a vast amount of information, including the number of times the car battery has been recharged, drivers will be able to calculate such things as how many more years a battery can be used and what value to place on it when the car is resold.”

    Not to mention Nissan knows how you use your vehicle and can deny warranty coverage if it feels you were abusive. When you sell, potential purchasers will know how you cared for it (maybe not such a bad thing perhaps) and Nissan will know where, when, and how often you drive. What is to stop a subpoena of the data…how much could Nissan sell your travel habits for and to whom? NO THANKS

  • avatar
    Syke

    Check today’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer (seattlepi.com) for an article on the leaf. Turns out there’s a program going on for this – early signups get a free 240v home charger, and there’s talk of 2500 public charging stations in the area.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Why would you build a new DC in a quake zone? I mean, really, unless you get a hell of a deal on connectivity and power (or you’re buying an existing DC from a bankrupt dotcom), it’s asking for trouble.

  • avatar
    Hank

    It will know every location you’ve been, how you got there, etc, and be tied to the car’s VIN. Personally identifiable logs on your movement. That’s one reason.

    I’m thinking the DC must be in Japan. The whole country’s a quake zone.

  • avatar
    friedclams

    Bertel, can I just say… I think the story of Nissan building a data center to house vehicle infomatics, for the stated purpose of realizing value on that data, is a HUGE spooky story that deserves its own headline.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Strangely, this doesn’t concern me. Nissan is taking advantage of the opportunity afforded by the technology in this new car. The more data they gather, the better the next generation will be.

    Nissan won’t be the last mfr to do this.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Since the battery for the Leaf is being leased, undoubtedly Nissan wants to keep track of its health.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Creepy as it is, it’s probably a good idea for most OEMs to do something similar. With cellular data so cheap I’m surprised we’re not seeing it.

      For one reason, it makes for a smart maintenance monitors much easier to do. Something wrong with your car? The results and running parameters for the last few months are instantly available to your service department.

      For another, much nastier reason, it makes EDRs far more capable and accessible. Claim to be the victim of SUA? Guess what: the manufacturer will have instant data available. For the matter, are you claiming your brakes “wear too soon” or suchlike? Your driving habits will be available for all to see. Quickly.

      I don’t know if people fully appreciate how cheap storage and bandwidth are pistolwhipping privacy.

  • avatar
    turbobeetle

    I know this is a little off topic, but with the news story about the run away Prius in my head it just occurred to me.

    What would happen to an electric car if it were to get struck my lightning, get trapped under a live power wire, or get submerged into a pool of water?

    As we embrace for an alternative technology in personal transportation that we don’t have much of a history of public use with one can only hope that the manufactures have considered these factors. You know other than quality drive by wire systems, or traction control issues in icy conditions…

    • 0 avatar
      turbobeetle

      I guess what I’m trying to say here is. What are the “new” issues we are going to deal with with an alternatively fueled car.

      Over the years we learned to deal with the drawbacks of having a tank of flammable, Quote “potentially explosive” material in our back seats (remember the exploding cop cars when rear ended?) are we now going to be dealing with people being burned to death from overcharging or electrocution from a high voltage shorts?

      Perhaps I’ll be keeping my ICE for a few more years!

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      “What would happen to an electric car if it were to get struck my lightning, get trapped under a live power wire, or get submerged into a pool of water?”

      EV or ICE, what does it matter? There isn’t a car built that isn’t heavily dependent on electronics. I’m guessing submerging an EV won’t create a toaster-in-the-bathtub effect, I hope I’m right.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I’ll bet Nissan’s engineers never thought of those issues. (sarcasm apology…)

      Actually, I’d much rather take my chances on the safety of an electric car as compared to one carrying a tank of gasoline.

  • avatar
    wmba

    “From now on, we will market cars based on the value of the information they provide,” said Toru Futami, expert leader at Nissan’s IT & ITS engineering department to the Nikkei.”

    Secret plans for provided information include the Complete Works of Julia Childs PBS cooking programs, the latest edition of All The World’s Weather, plus information on how to stop the Leaf shaking in a gale and Planning an Emergency Stop due to UA in 14 easy steps.

    “What really excites us is the new nanotech EMF sensor which sniffs out unused but live AC power outlets in the vicinity once the charge falls below 40%. We think this is a first and shows how far advanced Nissan’s strategic thinking has become,” Futami murmured. “With that feature and the special free-of-charge sonar eel-finder for deeper river and ocean use, Leaf customers can enjoy sushi on the go!”

  • avatar
    healthy skeptic

    Nissan abandoned the leased battery concept. They’re going to sell the whole car now.

  • avatar
    davejay

    You know, it may also be something as simple as running their own data processing capabilities for simple things like car payments. Right now they use a third-party service, and if you’re paying an NMAC loan you either have to enroll in automatic payments through a third party, pay by mail-in check, or pay a transaction fee of $5-$12 per non-scheduled online payment.

    If you’re going to have an electric car with navigation, bluetooth and other communication/connectivity features, it makes sense to build a datacenter to support it — but it also makes sense to leverage that datacenter for managing billing, too. In that context, larger capacity and extensive security aren’t really a mystery.

    Oh, and the Leaf is supposed to be able to calculate how much charge you have left, and tell you where you can go to get charged back up within your remaining range, right? Real-time traffic data processing is going to be a substantial chunk of that if they want it to be accurate and timely.

    Finally, the iPod model comparison makes a bit more sense if you think of the Leaf as the shell and the battery capacity/engine power as the disk/processor combination. So perhaps you’ll be able to buy a leaf that gets an 80-mile range with 0-60 in ten seconds for $x, 80-mile range with 0-60 in eight seconds for $y, and 120-mile range with 0-60 in ten seconds for $z — with an occasional model “refresh” that updates the exterior/interior appearance and bumps those capability numbers to 100-mile + ten seconds, 100-mile + seven seconds, and 140-mile + ten seconds. That sort of thing. It’d be a fascinating way to sell cars.

  • avatar
    sloppyjoe

    They need the datacenter with top secret security clearance to store all the complaints they are going to get and cover up like thir cousin Toyota did.


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