By on January 30, 2013

America, land of wide open roads and big cars, listen up: On the sidelines of Nissan showing its new day care center at its Yokohama headquarters to reporters, Nissan’s COO Toshiyuki Shiga made a comment that should resonate well with American customers:

“Fuel-cell technology is suited for use in large vehicles and long-distance driving,” Shiga said, in answer to a reporter who asked whether Nissan’s new collaboration with Ford and Daimler on fuel cell technology would eat into Leaf sales. EVs are small vehicles for short range driving, and the laws of physics will try their level worst to keep it that way.

Hydrogen-powered vehicles, which are, for all practical purposes, EVs with a battery that is charged with hydrogen, already can last longer on a single tank than most gasoline-powered cars. They also can be filled-up just as fast as a gasoline-powered car. Limited range and charge times of many hours will keep BEVs in the small niche they are.

I went to Yokohama to take pictures of Shiga with cute Japanese babies on both arms. There were none, the kindergarten won’t open for business until April. It shall be ignored by TTAC until Nissan offers me a photo op for cute baby pictures.

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17 Comments on “Nissan Promises Big Car EVs For The Wide Open Roads...”

  • avatar

    I’ve never owned a Nissan, but for a few years now, I have more respect for that company than I do for Honda or Toyota.

  • avatar

    While I’ll miss the sound of an engine, if they can have the stereo (a la BMW M5) fake the sound of Homer Simpson’s nuclear plant, I’m in!

    Really, I want the electric equivalent of the WRX.

    Since pretty much every car now comes with keyless entry, power windows and air conditioning, my “luxury” needs can be met anywhere. Besides, I prefer knobs to touchscreens when it comes to HVAC.

    I’ll never get the opportunity or develop the skill to use a porsche to its potential. I drive on public roads only.

    I will never have the money to justify owning a six-figure Tesla.

    I want something somewhat quick, somewhat practical, somewhat cheap, and all wheel drive. I would think that with electric motors providing big torque, this shouldn’t be too tall an order.

  • avatar

    I wouldn’t call a hydrogen-powered fuel cell an EV, since the fuel is hydrogen.

    And I doubt very much that such a vehicle will eat into Leaf sales. The hydrogen future is distant and unaffordable.

    • 0 avatar

      The drivetrain components are the same for a fuel cell car as an BEV, that’s what I think the reasoning was.

      I worked on a team developing automotive fuel cells a long time ago. They wanted to do the whole thing using a fuel cell to provide the sole source of power. Fuel cells hate going through large transients, like accelerating from a stop light. Ugh. Talk about shortening the shelf life there! There’s gotta be a battery or ultracapacitor between the fuel cell and the motor unless miracles happen.

    • 0 avatar

      Turkina’s right. A fuel-cell vehicle is a hybrid electric vehicle a la Chevy Volt, only the generator is the fuel cell stack instead of an ICE. You’ll still need a battery of considerable size to handle high drain/charge rates and to have capacity to bring the stack up to operating temperature while pumping the water/air etc through it.

    • 0 avatar

      @ gslippy:

      From a press release, put out by the people that gave you your avatar:

      “Jan. 28 – Yokohama – The age of mass-market, affordable fuel cell electric vehicles may soon be here thanks to a unique, three-way agreement among Nissan, Daimler and Ford.”

      If the business, they call it an FCEV, as opposed to a BEV.

      • 0 avatar

        Kind of silly of them to use the “EV” term, unless at least part of its power comes from the grid and not from hydrogen.

        I’ll buy that any plug-in car is an EV (at least part time), but if the only fuel connection to the car is something other than electrical, then it’s not an EV. Changing the internal technology doesn’t change the fact that no external electrons power it.

        I suspect Nissan’s using the EV term to score political points while it still carries some weight.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      How is this better than an NGV, on an emissions or efficiency basis (not to mention that NGVs are not vaporware)? Yes, the NGV does generate some carbon dioxide, but unless the hydrogen is produced by nuclear or hydro-generated electricity, the net effect is just going to be to displace the emissions away from the vehicle, as is the case now with BEVs, not eliminate them.

  • avatar

    Nissan has a new day care center in Yokohama? That must be for adult day care. Babies are almost as scarce in rapidly-aging Japan as nuclear-powered vehicles. Care of the frail and elderly, however, is a huge and growing challenge.

    • 0 avatar

      Not true. There is a huge waiting list for day care places in big cities such as Yokohama, and the spots are expensive. Mothers who wait for a daycare place won’t come back to work. I looked at the stas, and compared to Germany, they look rather benign.

  • avatar

    Nissan has a lot more foreigners than Toyota or Honda at HQ.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    SOFCs make more sense, as they can be fueled by existing infrastructure (as well as carbon-free Ammonia (NH3)). Question is, can a 60+% SOFC (with heat reuse like the BMW Turbosteamer) of 100kW be fit in the same space/mass constraint as say a comparable 100kW engine?

  • avatar

    All I want to know is which one of those guys signed off on the design of the Juke?

  • avatar

    Strip a Nissan Leaf down for weight savings then tow a small gas powered electric generator trailer behind it for those in between fast charger wide open spaces…

    Problem solved.

    • 0 avatar

      If your ‘small gas powered electric generator’ was about 15 HP flat-out (maybe 10 kW), then you might be on to something. Because that’s about the average energy consumption of a Leaf.

  • avatar

    Range from US

    Tesla Model S-85 range 265 miles
    Honda FCX Clarity range 240 miles
    Tesla Model S-60 range 208 miles
    Mercedes-Benz F-Cell range 190 miles

    Today’s Tesla battery electric cars are faster, larger and generally longer range than their fuel cell counterparts. Even ignoring the profound power advantage of batteries vs fuel cell, until hydrogen tanks can store miles as cheaply as Li ion batteries can store miles, the fuel cells will remain uncompetitive. That may not be automotive orthodoxy, but its market reality.

    H2 pressure vessels also tend to have a legislated life of about 5 years.

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