While Nissan’s star exhibit at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show was the Leaf electric sedan (see the AEI October magazine), a big crowd-gatherer was the Land Glider concept electric car. It is a “lean car,” the likes of which have been seen from time to time at motor shows and on proving grounds.
The car is 3100 mm (122.0 in) long on a 2180-mm (85.8-in) wheelbase, 1415 mm (55.7 in) tall, and is only 1100 mm (43.3 in) wide. It seats two adults in tandem and in “ordinary” postures, versus some concepts in which the rear occupant is staggered to one side, with legs spread wide around the front seat base, or sitting almost on top of the driver. A relatively short overall length and adequate leg space were made possible by the placement of the twin electric motors positioned midship under the floor, each motor driving its own assigned wheel via chain.
The Land Glider is symmetrical with two conventional front-hinged doors. Steering is by wire, and the body and wheels lean into corners, stabilizing the car and generating a good measure of cornering power by the tires’ camber thrust. Tires of 140/60-15 size produced by Bridgestone are specially reinforced motorcycle types with rounded shoulders. The cocoon-shaped body is stiff and provides good occupant protection, Nissan says.
The battery pack is the lithium-ion laminate type by Automotive Energy Supply, a joint venture company of Nissan and NEC. The charge port is positioned in front of the windshield. Nissan is also developing an inductive no-contact charge system for its electric vehicles.
The Land Glider is an experimental concept vehicle, and Nissan has no plan of putting it in its product portfolio, according to a company source.
On the production side, Nissan will add a hybrid version to the Fuga full-size luxury-sedan range, the Infiniti M in the U.S., in mid-2010. The hybrid transmission is jointly developed by Nissan and transmission specialist JATCO and produced by the latter. The system was first introduced to the media in 2007 at Nissan’s annual technical meeting in an Infiniti G30.
The hybrid system is a single-motor, dual-clutch type based on the new JATCO planetary-gear seven-speed automatic sans its torque converter. One of the clutches is a single-dry-plate type, as in a manual transmission, inserted between the ubiquitous VQ V6 engine, in this application a 3.5-L, and the electric motor/generator. One of the automatic’s wet multiplate clutches makes up the dual-clutch arrangement for hybrid control, an elegant cost- and space-saving solution, the clutch and motor neatly fitting within the space vacated by the torque converter.
The car starts and drives electrically up to about 100 km/h (62 mph) under a gentle foot, according to a Nissan engineer. On the go, the engine starts and drives the car via the automatic, assisted by the motor as required by traffic and road conditions.