Nissan wants to reshape the future of mobility by electrifying it.
Just recently, we caught a glimpse of what’s ahead as imagined by the Japanese company at the Nissan Futures event in Singapore. Think of it as a thought leadership platform that aims to gather both industry stakeholders and media.
Not only that, electric vehicle experts and government representatives from different parts of the ASEAN region were also present to participate and engage in panel discussions.
Although what most people were probably looking forward to the most was the chance to see Nissan’s newest technologies in action during the test drive. But apart from that, the event was to discuss Nissan’s goal to transition our everyday way of life into a connected, more efficient, and smarter future.
This was the first time an event like this was held in the Asia and Oceania region so it got us excited to see what the company had in store for us.
Benefits of Electric Vehicles
Before we dive into anything, let’s first get a grasp of what an electric vehicle (EV) is and what its benefits are.
EVs have zero tailpipe emission — meaning they don’t give out fumes harmful to both the air and people. They are virtually noiseless, unlike internal combustion engines. EV users also save a lot on maintenance since having a battery-powered motor has less moving parts than a conventional engine. Wear-and-tear would also be minimized.
2018 fully electric Nissan Leaf
Most importantly, they reduce dependence on oil.
EVs are an integral part of a cleaner and more sustainable environment. For some, just knowing that they’re doing their part to save the earth is reason enough to get an electric vehicle.
So with that out of the way, let’s now get to what Nissan Futures is working on for Southeast Asia.
Electrification in Southeast Asia
Among the topics discussed was the status of Southeast Asia and its readiness for adapting an electrified future. It’s a fact that while car ownership from this region is high, electrification of the automotive sector is relatively slow to take off.
This is why Nissan commissioned Frost & Sullivan, a global growth consulting company to conduct the study “Future of Electric Vehicles in Southeast Asia.”
There were 1,800 respondents in ASEAN, revealing that 37 percent of prospective buyers are open to considering an electric vehicle as their next car and customers specifically in the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia emerged as the most enthusiastic about adapting electric cars.
This came as a surprise to most people and because of these findings, Nissan actually gave us their word to look into bringing the technology to these countries sooner than originally planned.
Key Factors for EVs to Take Off
What does it require for EVs to take off? Well, as taken from the same survey, more people will make the switch to EVs if they were offered incentives.
Three in four people in Southeast Asia are ready to jump from conventional cars to EVs if taxes are waived. And about 70 percent of them will also welcome adaptation if charging stations are installed in apartment buildings.
Power stations for apartments and establishments
This means that the government will play a huge role in making these dreams a reality. Right now, not all countries in the region are capable of establishing infrastructures to support electric vehicles.
This is also the main reason why the new Nissan Leaf will not be available in all targeted ASEAN countries right away (see the countries here).
Shaping the Future
So how exactly does Nissan plan to shape the connected future? The keywords are Nissan Intelligent Mobility.
It basically determines how the company’s cars are powered, driven, and integrated with society.
Nissan Intelligent Mobility is already present in some of their vehicles. The auto-parking technology, 360-degree view, connected data — all emerged from this DNA.
During the event, Nissan showed off more of its new technology through interactive displays.
EPORO robots mimic the movement of schools of fish
We were first introduced to these robots called EPORO. Although they remind us of a crossover between Wall-E and Eve, these robots weren’t made to just be cute. These were designed and based off of schools of fish that move together in the same direction, never touching one another, and avoiding obstacles with single collective motions.
Using the same principle, when an obstacle presents itself to block its path, the robot will stop and so would all the others behind it. Nissan envisions to use the same algorithm on their vehicles so they can communicate with one another on the road and avoid colliding with other cars.
It’s not yet perfect, as we’ve seen them get confused once or twice. But with tweaks and updates, Nissan says this should take care of safety concerns when self-driving cars are the norm.
Charging port for the new Nissan Leaf
The company also talked about Alliance Connected Cloud, a shared technology in vehicle connectivity through a platform shared by Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi. The connected cloud will store data for customers to enjoy a variety of services.
Further developed by Microsoft, Nissan told us to expect added functionalities in different departments — security and safety included.
And finally, we were introduced to Nissan’s e-Powertrain.
e-Power on the Nissan Note
e-Power can be confusing since it sits between the usual combustion engine and an electric vehicle but it’s not quite a hybrid. Instead, the small engine doesn’t make the wheels turn but simply charges the battery whenever the juice runs out. It is still the electric motor that makes the car move.
This is what was installed on the Nissan Note also on display. For countries that aren’t that prepared to go fully electric yet, e-Power might be Nissan’s solution for now.
The second day was more of a hands-on with not one, not two, but three Nissan cars on the Nanyang Technological University’s Center of Excellence for Testing and Research of AVs or simply, CETRAN.
It’s basically a small test circuit for autonomous vehicles to ensure safe and seamless integration onto public roads. For this activity, there were two variants of the Nissan Note: one with a normal combustion engine and one with e-Power just so we could compare the two. While the last vehicle to test out was the fully electric 2018 Leaf.
Nissan Note with e-Power
Unlike its gasoline counterpart, the Note with e-Power is quiet as you’d expect on an electric vehicle. The engine only works once the battery is low but even then, it’s been reported to be efficient. According to the Japanese fuel efficiency test, the Note e-Power can reach 32.7 kilometers to a liter.
Then we got inside the 2018 Nissan Leaf.
It’s been an icon for the Japanese carmaker since it became very popular when the first model came out. In fact, the predecessor was one of the best-selling EVs of all time — with over 300,000 units sold worldwide. For this new model, the company is proud to claim the title as the most advanced, yet accessible 100 percent electric vehicle on the planet.
The new Leaf has an improved design and now features a clear-cut curve for its rear bumper
The new Leaf features increased power and range from its 2010 predecessor. It also carries a new electric powertrain that delivers 110kW of output and 320Nm of torque, improving acceleration.
A jolt of power from a full stop is what they’ve been proud of achieving and we got to put it to the test while at the track.
Driving the Leaf was very nimble and response time on the gas pedal was so impressive that the car almost pounces as soon as you hit the accelerator.
Nissan is also introducing new features to the 2018 Leaf. The e-Pedal has been tweaked to act both as a gas pedal and brakes for a sort of one-pedal driving. Stepping on the gas accelerates the car just like a normal vehicle would, but letting go of the pedal brings the car to a complete stop.
It was designed to help during heavy traffic so the driver wouldn’t need to keep on switching between the gas and brakes from time to time. We were also able to clear corners without hitting the breaks so the potential to reinvent driving is really there.
Another demonstration on the Leaf was its ProPILOT Park feature.
It’s the company’s version of self-parking wherein you only need to press the ProPILOT Park button and the car will automatically detect the space to park in. It takes a while for it to park — about one to two minutes but it does the job easily especially for those who find it a bit challenging when it comes to parking the vehicle.
From all these we can see that Nissan, just like other big automotive companies, has some pretty serious plans to reinvent how people move from one place to another. Statistics from the survey might show that some countries in the ASEAN region are not yet ready to jump fully on the EV bandwagon, but it’s good to know that Nissan still has solutions in mind like the e-Power on the Note.
It was also pretty evident during the event that Nissan has the tech to back up and build an entirely new ecosystem for transportation (and they already look promising), but companies like them also need to work very closely with the government of targeted countries in order to fully prepare for a connected city.
So how long until we live the envisioned life? Well, Nissan claims that we will be in a massively connected environment by the year 2020 — that’s if everything goes according to their timetable. Exciting times ahead indeed!
Tesla’s Autopilot saves family from deadly accident
Eight people were saved overall
It’s not often that you hear a story about Tesla’s Autopilot saving lives from deadly mishaps. However, that’s what exactly happened in the UK last Saturday. Tesla’s Autopilot function literally saved eight people from a falling tree which could have resulted to their deaths.
The whole accident happened while a powerful storm ravaged the UK’s countryside. Laurence Sanderson, the man behind the wheel of a Tesla Model X, was driving when a large tree suddenly fell due to strong winds. In an interview with Mirror UK, Sanderson said he was unable to react on time.
Luckily though, Tesla’s Autopilot function kicked in and automatically applied brakes. While the tree did considerable damage, it could have totally crushed the car if not for that function. Laurence, his wife, and his three kids were saved by Tesla’s technology.
And by chance, the technology also saved three people in a separate Tesla Model X. Josh Whitelock was driving the other Tesla in the opposite direction when the tree fell towards their car. As with the other Tesla, this car’s Autopilot function kicked in and saved him, his girlfriend, and his mother from death.
All in all, Tesla’s Autopilot literally saved eight people. While the function is still far away from enabling a true driverless experience for Tesla owners, they can rest assured that their car’s Autopilot works on keeping lives away from harm.
LG debuts world’s first curved OLED for cars
Featured in 2021 Cadillac Escalade
Pretty soon, smartphones and televisions won’t be the only place you’ll find OLED screens in. The automotive industry is slowly perfecting the OLED screen for everyone’s cars. In particular, LG is partnering with a few car makers for this endeavor.
Earlier this week, Cadillac has launched the 2021 Escalade. Aside from what’s under the hood, the iconic SUV debuts the industry’s first-ever use of a curved OLED screen in a car. The massive 38-inch display houses LG’s P-OLED Digital Cockpit Solution. The all-new software displays the vehicle information and infotainment system.
The display itself combines three separate P-OLED panels into one. The largest panel measures 16.9 inches.
LG is also boasting a new augmented reality-enabled navigation system and night vision. Presumably, the new features make driving friendlier for any road condition and driving time.
With the 2021 Escalade’s debut, LG dips its toe into the automotive display market. It predicts substantial market growth in the industry by 2023. The display company is also expected to debut a similar display in Mercedes Benz vehicles later this year.
My favorite pony made more fun
The thrill of rolling on a top-down ‘stang
No doubt, the most powerful car I’ve driven for the past year is the Ford Mustang 5.0 GT and it never fails to impress. This adrenaline-inducing speed machine was made more enjoyable as it now comes as a convertible. In my book, nothing else screams “fun” like this American muscle car.
The styling of the current model stays true to its heritage with that massive vented hood that gives the car a masculine and bold look. It has its intimidating headlamps along with an aggressive grille, broad shoulder and beltlines, and the iconic triple lamp tail lights which we all recognize.
Yes, this car looks stunning, but what Mustang enthusiasts are really after is performance. Ford has managed to fine-tune the current model to near perfection. Significant improvements and changes to power, handling, and safety of the vehicle were also ensured.
The updated 5.0 Coyote V8 is now fitted with high-pressure direct injection, bigger intake and exhaust valves, and increased compression ratios (12:0:1) boosting power to 460hp and 569Nm of torque with redline increased to 7500rpm and now mated to a 10-speed gearbox.
The sound of the engine alone is exhilarating as all that V8 goodness rumble. The independent rear suspensions, along with improved dampers, make this car very agile and easy around the corners.
In addition, you now have customizable steering settings that can change the steering wheel’s responsiveness and stiffness with a push of a button.
Other notable updates are the obvious facelift, featuring a newly designed hood with a lower grille and headlamps, new front and rear bumper and fender design, a more aggressive rear redesign with quad-tip exhaust and a sportier rear diffuser standard across all GT models.
Full LED headlights, a new full 12 inch LCD digital instrument cluster, and a 10-inch infotainment system with a 12-speaker setup are also what awaits you. You can even customize each selectable drive mode and get a number of performance metrics straight from your instrument panel.
Safety features also got an update such as pre-collision emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keep assist.
The interior also stays true to Mustang’s styling cues with those classic circular air vents, brushed aluminum accents all around, and soft-touch plastic and leather trims. Front seats are fairly comfortable while the rear may be a bit cramped especially if you’re tall.
Let’s get down to the driving experience. As soon as you get on the driver’s seat, you kind of feel a connection with the car and it just gives you an extra confidence boost.
Turning on the engine was already an exhilarating experience for me. And when I took it to our favorite scenic road in Sierra Madre on Normal Mode, it felt surprisingly comfortable for a sports car. It was smooth, quiet, and tame.
However, the whole car transforms completely once you set the driving mode to Sport+ Mode. It becomes a proper race car with power that just blows me away. We are talking 0-100 in under four seconds.
Throttle response is more sensitive while gear shifts are more delayed. And to top it all, drive it with the roof down and you will have the time of your life — I know I did.
A piece of advice though, try not to use its paddle shifters on Normal Mode. You downshift second gear using the paddle shifter and the car disapproves of your choices. It has a mind of its own and will immediately put you back into third gear making the maneuver super slow while simply making its engine grunt. It’s better to just floor it. And with the roof down, people will definitely remember your face, the guy in a Mustang who failed overtaking a Corolla.
Overall, the Mustang GT Convertible is probably one of the most fun cars I’ve driven. It can drive like a tame and normal vehicle and be as brutal as a race car. Given the new updates, you are getting more tech for your money. Fuel economy is not the best, but people buying this car will probably not mind, given what this car has to offer.
If you’re only after the looks of the Mustang, probably get the Ecoboost variant for better fuel economy, but Mustang enthusiasts will definitely enjoy the 5.0 V8. In my opinion, this model is very much worth the upgrade from the 2015-2017 Mustang.
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