Nissan Charging Forward on Electric AWD, Solid-state Batteries

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
nissan charging forward on electric awd solid state batteries

The Nissan Ariya Concept seen Wednesday at the Tokyo Motor Show will likely become a reality with little change in outward appearance, but you don’t need a sit-down with a group of Nissan engineers to figure that out. While the company admits an EV crossover is in the cards for the coming year (probably 2021 for the U.S.), the vehicle’s internals remain something of a mystery.

Shedding some light on the vehicle’s underbody bits, the Nissan engineers also opened up on a potentially revolutionary battery technology — as well as a detail that could help hesitant American drivers get behind the wheel of a (mostly) electric vehicle.

As reported by Automotive News, engineers speaking at Nissan’s tech center said the twin-motor AWD system found beneath the Ariya and a range of future products got its start beneath a Nissan Leaf test mule.

The prototype powertrain utilized twin 160-kilowatt motors front and aft, motivating each axle and drawing current from a 62 kWh battery pack sourced from the Leaf Plus. Models born from the joint Nissan-Renault dedicated architecture will use a different battery pack with different range and output, said lead system engineer Toshiyuki Nakajima.

In production vehicles, the system will meticulously tailor power delivery to the front and rear motors, with the brakes intervening to calm individual wheels in turns, he added. The project’s been underway for three years, with the home stretch apparently in sight.

Interestingly, Nakajima said the system can pair with something Americans might appreciate: Nissan’s e-Power system, which utilizes a continuously-running gasoline generator to provide current for the electric motors.

Already on sale in Japan, e-Power is expected to appear in Nissan and Infiniti vehicles in the near future. More efficient than having a gas engine power the drive wheels, e-Power is a novel take on the conventional hybrid. With this setup, torque-rich electric motors do all of the motivating, while nervous owners never have to worry about a battery pack running dry or finding a charging station. It’s like a range extender that never stops running. Another benefit is greatly reduced battery costs for that particular vehicle, and thus a lower sticker price.

The compatibility between the two-motor EV system and e-Power would allow Nissan to field BEV and gas-fired EV versions of models derived from the new platform.

As for batteries, Nissan has hopped on a bandwagon already populated by the likes of Toyota, among others. Hoping to increase energy density in EV battery packs while lowering overall costs, the engineers working on solid-state batteries also aim to reduce the size of today’s huge underfloor lithium-ion sleds. Don’t hold your breath, though.

As big as a breakthrough as solid-state batteries would be, it won’t be coming to a vehicle near you anytime soon. Even with the help of partners, Nissan doesn’t expect solid-state batteries in production vehicles until near the end of a 10-year window, according to Atsushi Teraji, the brand’s deputy general manager of powertrain and EV engineering.

[Images: Nissan]

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  • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Oct 24, 2019

    The "Solid State" batteries is what caught my attention. That would a giant leap forward. But, alas, a 10 year window? Much of technology tends to obsolete itself within 3-5 years! Just look how far we have come in cell-phone battery tech, or solid-state devices, or fuel-cell development, or ........

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    • Vvk Vvk on Oct 24, 2019

      @highdesertcat > how much it costs to put in a Charging Station, and he told me $2500 for the actual unit, > and more to have it installed, run electrical lines, meet local permit mandates, etc. Call Tesla and they will provide the charging equipment for free, and not just one. They will also subsidize or pay for the install.

  • Dal20402 Dal20402 on Oct 24, 2019

    I'd much rather live in a world where the charging infrastructure is there to get rid of the ICE altogether, with its associated maintenance, complexity, and localized pollution, than where an ICE is needed as a crutch to make an EV workable. So I'm a lot more excited to hear about new charger installations and faster fast charging than gas generators. Always happy to hear about battery R&D, though. We still need to cut battery prices roughly in half before EVs will be cost-competitive on a lifecycle basis for non-fleet users.

  • FreedMike One of the things that we here in North America often forget about Europe is that it's a COMPLETELY different world to drive in. Imagine driving in the downtown area of the city you live in 24/7, and never leaving it, and you have a decent simulation of what it's like to drive in a place like Paris, or London, or Rome - or Manhattan, for that matter. As far as the "dystopia" is concerned, I don't really see it that way. This isn't made for people living in the 'burbs - it's for urban dwellers. And for that application, this car would be about perfect. The big question is how successful the effort to provide large-scale EV charging in urban areas will be.
  • Matzel I am hoping that Vee-Dub will improve the UX and offer additional color options for the 2024 Mk8.5 refresh for Canada. Until then, I'll be quite happy with my '21 GTI performance pack. It still puts a smile on my face going through the twisty bits.
  • Stanley Steamer There have been other concepts with BYOT, that I have always thought was a great idea. Replacing bespoke parts is expensive. If I can plug in a standard 17" monitor to serve as my instrument panel, as well as speakers, radio, generic motors, batteries, I'm for it. Cheaper repair, replacement, or upgrade costs. Heck I'd even like to put in my own comfy seats. My house didn't come with a built in LaZboy. The irony is that omitting these bespoke items at the point of sale allows me to create a more bespoke car as a whole. It's hard to imagine what an empty rolling monocoque chassis would look like capable of having powertrains and accessories easily bolted on in my garage, but something like the Bollinger suv comes to mind.
  • Iam65689044 Sometimes I'm glad the French don't sell in America. This is one of those times.
  • SCE to AUX I was going to scoff, but the idea has some merit.The hard part would be keeping the weight and cost down. Even on the EPA cycle, this thing could probably get over 210 miles with that battery.But the cost - it's too tempting to bulk up the product for profits. What might start as a $22k car quickly becomes $30k.Resource-deprived people can't buy it then, anyway, and where will Kyle get the electricity to charge it in 2029 Los Angeles?