Automotive

Nissan Futures 2018: Electrifying the Future

Exciting times ahead!

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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.

Test Drive

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.

Conclusion

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!

Automotive

The Range Rover Evoque is a luxury SUV to beat

Making driving so much easier

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Coventry Motors Corporation, the sole authorized importer and distributor of Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles in the Philippines, introduced the All-New Range Rover Evoque. This is Land Rover’s luxury SUV blended with sweet looks and packed with safety tech.

The British car manufacturer takes craftsmanship to the next level with how details all have a purpose to make the Evoque as pleasing to the eye as possible. There’s a sense of familiarity when you first look at the SUV. But at the same time, things are somewhat different — better kind of different.


Up front, sports slim LED headlamps instantly grab your attention. There are prominent wheel arches that shelter its 20-inch wheels and now stands taller while being capable of wading through high waters.

It’s not only taller, but it also has wider and longer dimensions

According to the company, the Evoque now as a new chassis that makes the body stiffer and, in turn, offer that signature Range Rover ride comfort.

With a longer wheelbase, there’s now more room inside for passengers and luggage. The seats are dressed in two-tone Perforated Windsor leather for the top variants and come with 16-way seat controls.

The interior is described as minimalistic and straightforward luxury cabin designed to be more intuitive during drives. Its main hub is a 10-inch touchscreen system connected to a Meridian sound system for an immersive and detailed audio experience.

Land Rover says the Evoque is now smarter than previous models thanks to an updated software sitting behind its infotainment system. The basic idea is to be able to offer class and comfort for modern city living but still able to go off the paved road with its all-terrain characteristics.

This is achieved through the same Terrain Response technology seen on the full-size Range Rover that automatically detects the surface being driven on and adjusts how it acts accordingly.

It’s also complete with Hill Descent Control, Autonomous Emergency Braking, and Lane Keep Assist that all contribute to help you when driving gets a little bit trickier.

The tech features don’t stop there. Introducing as a segment-first is the ClearSight Rear-View that transforms the rear-view mirror into an HD video screen in case passengers and bulky items block the view of the driver for the rear.

To top it off, the Evoque is also introducing the world’s first ClearSight Ground View technology. In a nutshell, it makes the hood or bonnet invisible by projecting camera imagery onto the upper touchscreen to show the driver a 180-degree view under the front of the vehicle. This, along with its 360-degree surround camera, should come in handy when you literally find yourself in a tight spot!

While we’re on the subject of firsts, the Evoque is the first in its segment to offer a Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle (MHEV) option. It runs on an efficient 48V mild-hybrid powertrain which is designed to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy with no plug-in charging required.

Pricing for the four variants in the Philippines are as follows:

  • SE 2.0 Diesel – PhP 5,090,000
  • R-Dynamic HSE 2.0 Diesel – PhP 5,490,000
  • R-Dynamic HSE 2.0 Petrol – PhP 5,590,000
  • R-Dynamic HSE MHEV 2.0 Petrol – PhP 6,190,000

If you want something more exclusive, the Evoque is also available in Black Limited Edition on the three R-Dynamic models, for an additional PhP 100,000.

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Automotive

A Father’s Day drive up north

Story time!

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We recently got the Ranger Raptor for the second time to use at this year’s STV ARCC and represent Ford Philippines. And since we had a free day before the event itself happened, I decided to use it and take out my dad along with my brother for a road trip. Good thing Mom had an errand to do that day!

Dad wanted to visit a certain theme park restaurant north of Metro Manila so I agreed and went for it. We already brought the Raptor to a 4×4 route for some off-road action, so now we go for long, paved roads with hungry stomachs.


That’s Dad, my brother Kiefer, and me on the road

After four hours of driving from the south, past the traffic metro, and all the way up north, we reached our destination. The place is called Isdaan Floating Restaurant and it’s at the municipality of Talavera in Nueva Ecija in the Philippines. “Isdaan,” when translated, means “fishery” so it already paints you a picture of what to expect. The restaurant is hard to miss as it has a wide, inviting facade fronted with sculptures.

The staff greeted us with a warm welcome and led us to our private floating nipa hut with koi fish swimming around and under us. Looking at the menu, there were lots of choices from appetizers, meat, seafood obviously, and even specialties that you don’t usually see in city restaurants.

“Guarding” the floating nipa huts

We got Bicol Express (spicy stew), Sinigang na Liempo (pork belly soup), and Binukadkad na Plapla (butterflied fish) from the menu. One of their signatures is a Boat Special. Basically, they offer select dishes in a long sizzling plate mounted on a wooden counter-top that resembles a boat. This was how Bicol Express was served which greatly added to the presentation value.

Food was really great especially the soup. While the service wasn’t too snappy and could definitely be improved, the food compensated for it. It has that home-cooked taste that hits the spot after a long drive.

After eating, we decided to walk around the area and check out the theme park side of the place. There were giant statues everywhere — from the Charging Bull similar to New York’s, Big Buddha of Phuket, and even prehistoric dinosaurs. It does make for great photo opportunities as you’ll see in the following photos.

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Apart from the gigantic and humorous characters, another attraction to find here is a corner to vent out all your pent-up emotions. For a reasonable price, you can choose objects like those plates or coffee mugs that you can smash onto the wall. If you ask me, I feel it’s a bit out of place in this family-friendly restaurant but it still does make the place unique.

Those are all fun but what usually entices people to visit this place is the fact that you can dip your feet in this shallow pond and have large koi fish swimming in between your legs. It might sound weird and it’s probably not for everyone, but the novelty of being able to do it was actually fun.

These koi quickly gather around you as you go near the water

Caught this little guy trying to nibble on his watch

Can’t leave the place without this obligatory shot!

After all the photos were taken and a few minor mishaps (one of us slipping trying to get in with the fish, not telling who), we were ready to go back home. It was another four hours inside the Raptor and we ended up exchanging stories and laughing our way through the expressways while the truck was mostly on cruise control. It was definitely a trip to remember.

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Automotive

Mazda Smartphone Mirroring Upgrade Kit now available

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible

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Both Waze and Google Maps are proven navigation apps. This is why vehicles that support Android Auto and Apple Carplay — mirroring smartphone functionalities — are pretty much preferred these days over built-in navigation systems in the car.

Mazda in the Philippines is one of the latest to adapt in integrating smartphone mirroring to its Mazda Connect infotainment system. Through a hardware upgrade kit, your favorite apps like Waze and Spotify are now easier and safer to access while driving.


The upgrade kit can be retrofitted to Mazda vehicles all the way back from 2014 onwards as long as it has a Mazda Connect system. Aside from the new system module, the kit includes higher-capacity USB ports that can not only accommodate smartphone charging, but also transfer data for displaying relevant information on the touchscreen.

An official software update also comes with the kit for seamless communication between the smartphone and onboard system.

The Mazda smartphone mirroring upgrade kit may be purchased for PhP 17,500 plus VAT at all 21 official Mazda dealerships in the country. The price includes installation by trained Mazda technicians to ensure proper fit and integration and comes with a one-year warranty for the newly installed hardware.

ALSO READ: Mazda 6: Not your ordinary mid-size sedan

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