What does Nissan see in a future LEAF?
It is always easier to predict the future when you can see the present clearly. With the introduction of the 2013 Nissan Altima, Nissan’s bread and butter car, we can look to some technologies that will ultimately make their way into the LEAF, as well as other Nissan products. How do we know? Once Nissan’s highest volume car incorporates a new technology, the scale of production makes it more affordable to include in other vehicles.
In some ways the LEAF led the Altima – the inclusion of a standard Bluetooth hands-free phone connection, for one, showed up on the LEAF first. But in other ways, this 2013 Altima shows technology yet to make its way into the LEAF. NissanConnect will use your smart phone to provide a multitude of internet connectivity functions, such as streaming Pandora radio integrated into the audio system and Points of Interest from a Google search. Once found, you can use the optional on-board navigation system to take you there. While CARWINGS has some similar capabilities currently from one’s home computer, it does not include smart phone integration for Points of Interest.
Another nice feature is the display of upcoming turn information from the navigation system directly in front of the driver in addition to the navigation display. This should enhance safety, as well as provide additional convenience. One feature in particular that we like is what Nissan calls Easy Fill Tire Alert. No need for a tire pressure gauge, or guess work regarding how much air is in the tire. When the tire pressure reaches the recommended tire inflation the horn beeps to let you know.
What were once luxury brand features are also finding their way into Nissan’s volume leader. Naturally these are extra cost options, but not all that long ago one would find these features only on the likes of BMW, Lexus or Infiniti (typically also as extra cost options). Useful for many will be the Blind Spot Warning alerting the driver to the presence of a vehicle behind and to the side. Lane Departure Warning is a potentially annoying babysitter, but one that could prove beneficial to make-up applying or newspaper reading drivers. Of course, these drivers would probably choose to turn the system off. Finally, one relatively new technology is Moving Object Detection which notifies of objects moving behind the vehicle, especially useful in parking lots or when backing out of the driveway. All of these technologies use the rear view monitor in expanded roles.
From an active safety standpoint, Active Understeer Control could be very useful. It seems to be a mild version of Nissan’s electronic stability control system which Nissan calls Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC). While VDC would kick in only when the driver starts losing control due to excessive speed or slippery conditions, Active Understeer Control would come into play prior to that situation developing and apply the brakes to the wheels on the inside of the corner to assist turn-in. All-in-all, a handy technology to have.
We may not see all of these convenience and safety systems on the 2013 LEAF, but look for them to arrive at some point down the road.