The LEAF is Nissan‘s new electric car targeted for sale in 2010.
Industry observers and electric car salespeople will make a big deal about the car’s connection to a global data center, providing support, information, and entertainment for drivers 24 hours a day. Sounds great, eh? This blog would caution that the smart electric drive passenger car shopper may want to drill down to learn what TLA (Top Level Architecture) is in use and what are its capabilities and compatibilities. (For instance, WAVE (Wireless Access for the Vehicular Environment) is the primary standard that addresses vehicle telematics.) How well does it interconnect with other systems, to include map formats and cellular telephone protocols? What is upgrade process like? Etc.? that the Nissan press release states that the advanced IT system is exclusive.
While an emergent technology, vehicle telematics is other than new. It is pre-millenium, even! Such systems have been an option offered in a variety of luxury cars for some time. The subscription-based OnStar system (circa 1997), exclusive to vehicles manufactured by the now bankrupt General Motors, recently celebrated a 10th anniversary, announcing that 5 million subscribers benefit from communications, in-vehicle security, hands free calling, turn-by-turn navigation, and remote diagnostics systems throughout the United States and Canada.
Java-based TLA enables different interfaces, as well as a variety of functions. Not only GPS or other beacon-enabled navigation, but also network-based, multimedia telecommunications and telematics, i.e., vehicle performance is one display window along with a well-prepared briefing about the next client.
The basis of such automotive navigation systems is GPS (Global Positioning System) technology, integrated with in-vehicle sensors, computers and mobile communications technology. Via EV World Wire, we learn that the Nissan LEAF will have a dash-mounted display that not only monitors remaining power, it will show the driver’s “reachable area” and show a selection of nearby charging stations.
Still even such electric drive centric information is other than novel; existing, albeit rare ZEVs (Zero Emission Vehicles) like the BMW Mini-E and the PeaPod have featured interfaces similar to what Nissan now is touting. There have been and one might predict a expansion of the mapping of charging stations via the Internet.
Certainly, there are nuances to the Nissan vehicle telematics, e.g.,
Another state-of-the-art feature is the ability to use mobile phones to turn on air-conditioning and set charging functions – even when Nissan LEAF is powered down. An on-board remote-controlled timer can also be pre-programmed to recharge batteries.
And, hopefully my caveat, a.k.a., opportunity to “geek out”, will serve the careful shopper ready to take a bold step away from the dominant ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) paradigm. With catastrophic degradation of the Earth’s atmosphere and peak oil looming, Ghosn and Nissan have take a decisive step by offering the passenger car market with an electric car alternative.