Nissan’s New Tech Center Opened

Nissan’s New Tech : In the race to produce green vehicles, Nissan is lagging behind its fellow Japanese firms Honda and Toyota. These two car companies are already enjoying success in the United States auto market in terms of the sale of their hybrid vehicles. The Toyota Prius is a strong seller as well as the Honda Civic Hybrid.

For Nissan though, they are concentrating on producing vehicles equipped with the CVT or the continuously variable transmission. The use of the said gear box reduces the amount of fuel consumed by vehicles equipped with it. This means that greenhouse gas is also reduced. While Nissan’s use of the CVT protects the environment in its own way, car buyers are looking at hybrid vehicles as the better choice.

In response to this, Nissan is set to enter the fray of car manufacturers producing hybrid cars. In order to develop a green car that can be serious competition for the Prius and the Civic hybrid, Nissan built a technology center where developments of hybrid technology will be carried out. The new facility recently opened is located in Atsugi – a city in the Kanagawa Prefecture in Japan. At this facility, Nissan is developing lithium-ion batteries which will be used on the production of a hybrid vehicle.

Currently, hybrid vehicles uses nickel-metal hydride battery packs. The lithium-ion batteries being developed by Nissan for automotive application is considered a better choice since it weighs less and packs more power. Some of the tests being carried out by technicians at the said facility is rattling the batteries to simulate driving. They are also being tested under extreme temperature. This is to make sure that they will not malfunction during cold winter drives or will not explode when the vehicle gets too hot.

The development of the batteries is a step toward the mass production of Nissan green vehicles which is seen as a way to bring the company closer to Honda and Toyota in terms of sales.

Nissan’s New Tech Present at the opening of the technology center is Nissan Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn. “Whether products with technology that appeals to consumers can be offered in a timely manner will determine the winners and the losers,” Ghosn said during the opening ceremonies. While the company has the resources to invest in the tech center, they are still hampered by their near-collapse during the previous decade. The company’s current CEO is given much if not all of the credit for turning around the company to what it is now today. Last year though, the company suffered its first setback since Ghosn took the reins.

The year 2006 also saw Honda overtaking Nissan to become the second largest Japanese car manufacturer. The reason for Nissan’s poor year is the lack of auto models in their lineup. They have also been criticized for not producing hybrid cars. While the company is being wrongfully accused of that since their CVT reduces greenhouse gas emissions, they have remained resilient by setting a goal of selling a large number of Nissan vehicles equipped with CVT. Aside from the CVT, Nissan also uses Nissan EGR valves to reduce the amount of nitrogen dioxide emissions.

At the opening of the new facility, Ghosn reiterated that they are not seeking to add a new member to the Nissan-Renault alliance. “We’re not talking with anybody,” he said. “I don’t think it’s the right timing today.”

He said that while it is speculated that Nissan should partner with more car companies aside from Renault so that it can gain more technological advances, they will not be looking to do that since Nissan is developing its new technology. The new facility is concrete evidence that Nissan can develop technology on its own.

While it is apparent that Nissan is taking steps to gain ground against Toyota and Honda, experts in the industry said that Nissan will be fighting a hard battle although it most certainly will not be a losing one. This is because Honda and Toyota are fueled by their competitiveness that they are constantly outdoing the other in terms of developing new automotive technologies.

Nissan’s New Tech Toyota is known for its leadership in hybrid technology while Honda has the first U.S. government approved fuel-cell vehicle. For Nissan’s part, not only will they be producing more hybrid vehicles but they have also announced that they will be producing a diesel powered vehicle for the United States auto market.

The popularity of diesel engines in Europe and the fact the Renault is based in France means that Toyota will be able to seek the help of their alliance partner in developing the diesel-powered Nissan Maxima which is set to be released in 2010.