January 5, 2012

A VOLT IN EVERY GARAGE:

Revenge of the Electric Car: The Nissan Leaf is the first all-electric car to try to connect to a mass market. Now Nissan is betting on a U.S. factory that can turn out 150,000 cars a year. (MAHENDRA RAMSINGHANI, 1/05/12, Technology Review)

Mark Perry, director of product planning for Nissan America, told Mahendra Ramsinghani why he thinks "electrification" will spread across the transportation sector.

TR: Let's start with innovation and the electric car. What does the marketplace demand in such a vehicle? Affordability? Driving range per charge?

Perry: First off, from an innovation standpoint the Nissan Leaf represents the world's first mass-produced, mass-market, affordable electric vehicle. As you know, the Chevy Volt is a plug-in hybrid; the Leaf is a pure battery electric car with zero emissions [from the car itself]. Nobody's done a mass-market electric vehicle before. And second, nobody's done it at an affordable price point.

The range is a marketing challenge, not necessarily a technical challenge. Consider that 72 percent of the population drives less than 40 miles a day. So a car like the Leaf, which has 100 miles of range, more than satisfies people's daily driving habits. To meet the affordability target is important--certainly you can add more [battery] cells, more modules, [and extend the range]--but that leads to more cost, a bigger body, and then you're at $50,000 not $35,000. And now you've just killed your affordability goal.

We made a real car that people can use as their primary vehicle--you've got room for five adults, enough range for their driving habits, and the affordability. All three of them mean mass market.

What was the tipping point from the product development standpoint?

We had a breakthrough in battery design back in 2003 that allowed us to get twice the energy out of a pack half the size and weight and that cost significantly less. And once we had that breakthrough, then we were able to see a path to that affordability target. 

Posted by at January 5, 2012 5:39 PM
  

blog comments powered by Disqus
« AS THE WIFE POINTED OUT...: | Main | ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT RICK SANTORUM...: »