Automotive

Nissan Futures 2018: Electrifying the Future

Exciting times ahead!

Published

on

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 Ford Ranger XLS and XLT are perfect for business owners

Capable, reliable, and tough

Published

on

When you’re on the market looking to buy a new vehicle, going for the top-of-the-line variant benefits you with the latest features, a more powerful engine, and probably added accessories on its body.

The thing is, one doesn’t always need the best model. Sometimes, you just need something that’s capable, reliable, and tough. This is where Ford’s more affordable Ranger models come into play. The Ranger XLS and XLT variants are characterized by a utility-inspired design with features and capabilities reflecting its hard-working personality.

We took them on a road trip outside the metro to experience how they would fare when used as a utilitarian vehicle for a business owner’s needs.

Here’s a glance on what it offers:

  • Powertrain – The Ranger XLS and XLT variants are powered by Ford’s 2.2-liter TDCI engine. Coupled with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, it delivers 160PS and 385Nm of torque to suit performance demands.
  • Water-wading – Since it targets customers with workhorse and utility needs, the Ranger XLT and XLS variants boast an 800mm water-wading capabilities.
  • Towing and payload – The Ranger XLS 4×2 variant has a towing capacity of 2,500 kilograms, while the XLS 4×4 manual variant ups the ante to 3,500 kilograms. All variants of the Ranger XLT 4×2 have a towing capacity of 2,500 kilograms. Meanwhile, all Ranger XLS and XLT variants have a 1,200-kilogram payload capacity.
  • Features – Both models are equipped with Ford’s Driver Assist Technologies that ensure a safe and comfortable drive whether on- and off-road. These include an adjustable speed limiter, ABS with EBD, childproof door locks, cruise control, front driver and passenger airbags, and front seatbelt pre-tensioners.

Putting the Ranger XLS and XLT to the test

Our first stop was at a hardware store for construction materials. We loaded one Ranger with almost one ton of dry cement and delivered it to a nearby site. The Ranger performed the task easily and without any hiccups, as expected.

Additionally, while at the site, an architect shared a short testimonial of how her very own Ford Ranger not only helped her transport materials in and out of the city, but it was also able to reliably haul her workers around when needed.

After a short break, we hopped back in the Ranger and drove off to our next destination. This time it was in a milling plant and we loaded the truck with a combination of rice and corn totaling to 800kgs.

I personally drove the loaded Ranger and was surprised at how well it handled the task. I knew it could take on all that load but I was expecting its engine to struggle a bit. But in reality, it was like I wasn’t lugging around almost 1,000kg of payload.

We brought the sacks of corn and rice to a nearby farm and its owner gave another short talk enumerating how the Ford Ranger contributed to the success of his family business. From all its features, what stands out to the successful business owner is the 800mm water-wading capabilities of the truck. Because of it, he’s never afraid of taking on floods which is common in some areas that he’s in.

The Ranger XLS 4×2 offers a towing capacity of 2,500 kgs

While we were here, Ford wanted to show off more of what the Ranger can do. Next thing we know, the XLS variant was towing a tractor which was quite impressive to see in person.

Built Ford Tough

This activity further established the company’s promise that its vehicles are built tough. Though these were not the top of the line models, they proved to be as capable as their more expensive siblings and a reliable daily workhorse. Plus, with the base model priced below PhP 1 million, it’s a perfect choice for business owners who want to try out the advantages of owning a pickup truck.

Pricing for the Ranger 2.2L XLS 4×2 MT is at PhP943,000, while the Ranger 2.2L XLT 4×2 AT and MT variants now come with a cash discount of PhP 125,000.

Ford is currently offering this exclusive deal until December 31, 2019. For more information on the promo, you may visit Ford’s website.

Continue Reading

Automotive

A racing virgin’s experience at the Toyota Vios Racing Festival

Challenging, but something worth doing again

Published

on

I love driving. Whether it’s an out of town drive for hours or simply going for a short trip with the wife, one could always count me in for such activities. So when Toyota Motor Philippines extended an invite to their annual Vios Racing Festival, I didn’t think twice and submitted my name.

I thought, “I drive pretty well on the road so this shouldn’t be that challenging. How hard is it to avoid cones, anyway?”

Boy, was I wrong.

The Racing Festival

As a quick background, Toyota Motor Philippines has been organizing Vios motorsport events in the country for six years now. Called the Vios Cup, the circuit race celebrates the spirit of Waku-Doki (shortened from the Japanese phrase “Waku waku doki doki” which translates to a feeling of “heart-pumping excitement”) and features drivers from different backgrounds — celebrities, new Vios owners, and car club members are just some of the individuals invited at this special event.

The Autocross Challenge

This season, TMP has added the Autocross Challenge that runs alongside the main event. It’s a timed competition where participants race through an obstacle course and finish with the quickest lap time possible. Basically, the company presents it as an amateur-friendly way to get into the world of motorsport.

The Experience

Unlike the main event where participants spent months training for the circuit race, I and my fellow media participants only got one day of practice driving around the obstacles before the event. The cars were provided by Toyota — a souped-up Vios OMR fit for the track — complete with manual gearbox and loads of torque. We were also given tracksuits and helmets so apart from keeping me safe, I looked like a legitimate race car driver wearing those.

As the title states, I had no experience whatsoever in racing cars. After the briefing, I was basically given the suit and the car and thrown into the track to get a feel for how to make the fastest lap time possible.

So I got in the car, drove up to the starting line, lodged the transmission to the first gear, and gave the engine a full rev. As soon as I was given the go signal Fast-and-Furious-style, I was off — complete with tires screeching.

The obstacle consisted of multiple chicanes and we needed to slalom our way past them. To make things more interesting, there were sharp u-turns and a 540-degree turn at one point and it was where I spun out since I made the mistake of applying brakes while making the turn. It felt like I was in a movie, though, like Ansel Elgort in Baby Driver.

After finishing the first lap, I made mental notes of how I can improve my time for the next practice run. The problem here wasn’t how to avoid obstacles. It’s how to avoid obstacles with speed to be able to finish with the quickest time.

Good thing there were seasoned racers with us and they were able to give me some tips. One could say that taking on the Autocross challenge is similar to dancing — you have to know exactly when to shift, when to brake, and when to turn. These are key elements that I needed to keep in mind, pretty much like memorizing dance steps. I did better time during my second attempt and that concluded our practice day.

Then came the race day itself. After breakfast, I was just in my hotel room sitting down and pretending to drive while thinking about the track. I saw the racing movie Rush a few years back and that’s where I got the idea of imagining yourself on the track, taking on the obstacles and practicing gear shifting at the right moment.

After the opening ceremonies and the main event kicking off, it was our time to compete. To cut some of the details, I finished with a time of 1:01 with the top 10 finalists finishing at 0:58. Considering it was my first time doing something like that, I was pretty happy and satisfied with my performance.

End of Day Thoughts

As someone who’s always into trying out new things, participating in an Autocross Challenge was definitely one for the books. It’s a great initiative from Toyota Philippines to continuously hold events like this to keep the spirit of motorsport alive in the country.

The racing festival itself, even if you’re not a participant, was a really enjoyable event even for the entire family. It’s also worth recognizing TMP’s efforts to bring new blood into the sport every year as it’s not exclusive to Vios owners only. In fact, they’re also opening the Autocross Challenge for the public through their social media pages.

So if you want to get into the adrenaline-pumping world of racing, head to their official pages and see how you can be part of the next Toyota Vios Racing Festival.

If you’re still reading up to this point, it just means you’re one interested fellow and you might want to check out the event next year when it makes a comeback.

You’ll enjoy it. I know I did!

Continue Reading

Automotive

Get a chance to drive the all-new Mazda CX-30 and CX-8 this weekend

Plus other models from Mazda’s lineup

Published

on

The all-new Mazda CX-30 and CX-8 have recently been unveiled in the Philippines and interested buyers can get up close and check out these new vehicles for themselves this coming December 6 to 8 at the Bonifacio High Street Big Bear Oval.

Both the 2020 Mazda CX-30 compact crossover and the 2020 Mazda CX-8 three-row crossover head the expanded CX family lineup of premium, stylish, and dynamic crossovers. They’re definitely one of the best-looking vehicles in the country today and heading to this three-day event will allow you to learn more about the lineup Mazda has to offer.

The Mazda Premium Experience will give customers the opportunity to drive not only the new models from the company but also select models from the rest of their lineup. Apart from the CX-30 and CX-8, the all-new Mazda3, Mazda6 Turbo sedan, CX-5 5-seater crossover, and CX-9 7-seater crossover will also be at the event.

Additionally, a special weekend-only offer featuring up to PhP 180,000 cash savings is available for Mazda’s award-winning 2019 CX-5 AWD Sport Diesel.

“Mazda customers can experience and feel for themselves the premium difference in design, interior quality and driving feel of the Mazda car and crossover range this weekend. Aside from just driving Mazda vehicles around BGC, we will have an in-depth tour of the new Mazda design philosophy as well as showcase the superior craftsmanship and class-leading safety technologies that can be found in our latest models for those who visit the display,” shares Mikko David, Senior Manager for Marketing and PR of Mazda Philippines.

Continue Reading

Trending