An electric future for Nissan

Posted at 01/05/09 7:01 PM

The year 2008 began with a bang and ended with a crash. Expectations were high at the beginning and in fact, during the middle part things looked good, even for the automobile industry. 

And then it hit!

The global market went on a meltdown. Prices soared at a staggering rate. Salaries and paychecks are not moving an inch and everyone is in crisis mode. 

This situation is felt more by the automobile industry than by any other. The effect on their sales performance can be felt from the top executive to the bolt tightener at the assembly line.

But Nissan Motors believes it has found a solution to the growing problem of fuel cost and shortage for internal combustion driven automobiles. Simon Sproule, Corporate Vice President of Nissan Motors in Asia says the most viable alternative is to go electric.

“While developing other alternative fuels is still on the R&D of Nissan, we believe that electric cars are the way of the future for automobiles,” says Sproule in an interview. Nissan believes in electrification of cars because it is the most common of all alternatives.

“This is the one power source that is abundant and not totally dependent on fossil fuel. We have electricity at home, we have it on the streets, restaurants, parking lots and every other place a car can go,” stresses Sproule.

Sproule adds that other alternative fuels need drastic technologies to incorporate into the present internal combustion engine. “Fuels like hydrogen, biofuels and the hybrids all still depend on gas or diesel to make it viable, but a paradigm shift from internal combustion to all electric will definitely help the consumer in the most convenient manner” he adds.

“What is now needed is government action to provide the necessary structure for the switch from gas to electricity,” echoes Elizabeth Lee, President of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (CAMPI) and Universal Motors Corporation head.

Lee and Sproule both explain that an ordinary motorist drives an average of 30 miles to and from work. “The latest electric car design can travel a continuous 60 to 80 miles before it needs to recharge. Nissan’s electric car, the Tivo is in this range. The question here now is what kind of battery to use and how the national government can assist in pursuing this,” says Lee.

Other car manufacturers like Toyota and Honda have come up with a hybrid electric car that runs on both a gas engine and an electric turbine. General Motors recently; launched their own version on their 100 anniversary celebration in Bangkok while all others are trying to develop their own.

“There is no hard and fast rule here on where the direction for the next type of engine will go. Every country and manufacturer will try one of their own until one distinct type comes on top of the rest. Nissan believe this will be electric because of its easy access without further discomfort to the consumer,” Sproule says.