Nissan LEAFs and e-NV200 at V2G station in the UK
According to Nissan, based on information from the company's commercial vehicle division, the next-generation of EVs will surpass a 310-mile range for cars.
Ponz Pandikuthira, vice president for product planning for Nissan Europe, and one of the motivators for moving electrification to Nissan's LCV division, sees positive demands for the improved technology. He recently spoke to the U.K.’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. He shared:
“We have more experience with EVs than any other manufacturer, and we’ve seen a huge uptake in the sales of the e-NV200, especially with delivery companies."
“The threshold for the next generation of EVs is going to be significantly larger than those on the market right now. We’re expecting the step-up in range to take us to 250, 350 and 500 kilometers (300 miles) in range for cars."
“Thankfully it’s very easy to pass that on to vans, because you can fit the powertrain and batteries to the platform because you have the space. The timing (for launching in the U.K. market) is still to be confirmed, but in the future an electric vehicle will be able to reach 500 kilometers in real-world conditions. Not just during the laboratory-testing process.”
“Electrifying commercial vehicles for short haul has its obvious benefits.“Something like the NT400 (flatbed truck), for example, is perfect and there are already companies retrofitting electric powertrains to garbage-collection vehicles."
“For the long haul, it’s just a case of getting the battery costs down and also working out how to generate the charge.”
At the moment, Pandikuthira admits that many consumers still have range anxiety, and tend to prefer hybrids over fully-electric vehicles. He says that this is just a "stepping stone" as EV technology continues to develop and improve. He also believes that plug-in hybrids can be a bridge to all-electric vehicles, but it's only a short-term solution, due to the configuration's excessive weight.
“When we see hybrids, we see a pathway to full electrification. Nissan is obviously working towards zero-emission future, but there are several ways to get there. We’re already quite advanced in terms of mild- and microhybrid technology."
“For example, the Note (mini-MPV) with E-Power is the best-selling vehicle in Japan. It works with a range extender, which uses a small combustion engine to charge the battery. This is something that could work with a compact commercial vehicle."
“Then there is plug-in hybrid technology. At the moment, this gives a driver 100 miles (161 km) of electric range and lower emissions for urban driving. Obviously, there are challenges with this technology, because when you add a plug-in system you add a huge amount of mass to the vehicle, sometimes up to 400 kg (881 lbs). That’s why we see it as a short-term solution. Plug-in hybrids are a bridge to full-term electrification.”
For these reasons, Pandikuthira asserts that the time has come to build vehicles as all-electric models from the beginning. This is more cost-effective than dealing with hybrids and plug-in hybrids, and then working on a transition at a later date. While this may not be entirely possible quite yet, it's the company's target.
“Going forward, we’d like to define vehicles as EVs from the start. That makes it more cost-efficient from a development point of view, but over the next five years we don’t think that will be the case for all vehicles. That’s why we design them with a sense of interchangeability.”