Nissan Charging Forward on Electric AWD, Solid-state Batteries

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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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.

  • Lichtronamo Watch as the non-us based automakers shift more production to Mexico in the future.
  • 28-Cars-Later " Electrek recently dug around in Tesla’s online parts catalog and found that the windshield costs a whopping $1,900 to replace.To be fair, that’s around what a Mercedes S-Class or Rivian windshield costs, but the Tesla’s glass is unique because of its shape. It’s also worth noting that most insurance plans have glass replacement options that can make the repair a low- or zero-cost issue. "Now I understand why my insurance is so high despite no claims for years and about 7,500 annual miles between three cars.
  • AMcA My theory is that that when the Big 3 gave away the store to the UAW in the last contract, there was a side deal in which the UAW promised to go after the non-organized transplant plants. Even the UAW understands that if the wage differential gets too high it's gonna kill the golden goose.
  • MKizzy Why else does range matter? Because in the EV advocate's dream scenario of a post-ICE future, the average multi-car household will find itself with more EVs in their garages and driveways than places to plug them in or the capacity to charge then all at once without significant electrical upgrades. Unless each vehicle has enough range to allow for multiple days without plugging in, fighting over charging access in multi-EV households will be right up there with finances for causes of domestic strife.
  • 28-Cars-Later WSJ blurb in Think or Swim:Workers at Volkswagen's Tennessee factory voted to join the United Auto Workers, marking a historic win for the 89- year-old union that is seeking to expand where it has struggled before, with foreign-owned factories in the South.The vote is a breakthrough for the UAW, whose membership has shrunk by about three-quarters since the 1970s, to less than 400,000 workers last year.UAW leaders have hitched their growth ambitions to organizing nonunion auto factories, many of which are in southern states where the Detroit-based labor group has failed several times and antiunion sentiment abounds."People are ready for change," said Kelcey Smith, 48, who has worked in the VW plant's paint shop for about a year, after leaving his job at an Amazon.com warehouse in town. "We look forward to making history and bringing change throughout the entire South."   ...Start the clock on a Chattanooga shutdown.
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