Archive for the ‘nissan north america’ Tag

Nissan Frontier Prototype Powered by Cummins Diesel

When Nissan dropped the Frontier Diesel Runner Concept with a 2.8-liter Cummins diesel four-cylinder under its transparent hood at the 2014 Chicago auto show, it was like a bomb had exploded at McCormick Place. A diesel engine in a compact pickup! (Or something like that, given the Windy City show’s sleepy reputation.) Where have you been all of our lives? Besides every other country, of course.

Indeed, as with driver-side sliding doors on minivans and express-open windows, a diesel-powered compact seemed (and still seems) like a why-haven’t-we-had-this-all-along kind of idea. After all, with prodigious torque and considerable fuel economy advantages over large-displacement gasoline-powered engines, diesels are natural fits for larger pickups, so why not small trucks?

So we were first in line to sample a modestly equipped, Cummins-powered Frontier Crew Cab prototype that Nissan provided for evaluation. And while the powertrain itself was rough and in need of a heavy dose of refinement, what we experienced made us that much more convinced that the diesel compact truck has a future here.

The diesel engine itself is a new, 2.8-liter mill that produces approximately 200 horsepower and a hearty 350 lb-ft of torque, according to Nissan. Being careful not to overstate its claims about the diesel’s capability, Nissan instead is emphasizing the mill’s fuel efficiency, which it says should increase by about 35 percent compared with the gas-powered V-6 in the 2014 Frontier. It will do so while also roughly matching the six-holer’s towing and payload capacities (which can reach up to 6500 and 1480 pounds, respectively). So you don’t have to look it up, the Frontier Crew Cab V-6 achieves an EPA estimated 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway, so we figure that a diesel-powered version would jump into the 22-mpg city/30-mpg highway neighborhood. But compare the power figures to the 261 horsepower and 281 lb-ft produced by the V-6 and the 152 horses and 171 lb-ft of the inline-four in the current Frontier, and one can see how anybody who regularly tows a trailer or fills the bed might be attracted to such a machine.

How’s it drive? Well, without balance shafts, optimized engine mounts, and other refinements, the Cummins engine’s current state means it isn’t close to ready for production, even mated as it is to ZF’s versatile 8HP70 eight-speed automatic transmission. The engine vibrates considerably, and is none too discreet with its industrial-sounding, spoon-in-a-blender diesel clatter. And there is “intentional” turbo lag, according to Cummins marketing communications manager Steve Sanders, who rode along with us for the test drive. “You’ll see why.”

Alas, we did, upon our first full-throttle start. The engine roared and we traveled a sluggish initial 30 to 40 feet, then the rear wheels began to spin wildly, prompting us to back off the throttle to regain our grip. Of course, we repeated this procedure at every subsequent opportunity—delayed-reaction burnouts are fun, don’t ya know. Yet, the diesel is eminently drivable when operated with some judiciousness. It’s hardly quick off the line, but the copious reserves of grunt are truly satisfying. We would have loved to load up the bed with a half-ton of stuff and see how it performed, but that will have to wait for another time.

So it works. We had no doubts that it would. Moving forward, we will be interested to see how refined this powertrain becomes as it nudges toward something salable. Truck diesels don’t need to be as whisper-quiet and smooth as those found in modern luxury sedans, but the shaking and valvetrain noise will nonetheless have to be tamed, and the turbo lag will need to be smoothed out before anyone would choose it over a gas V-6. Anything is possible, said Sanders, but to what extent that will happen “depends on how much Nissan wants to spend.” ZF, at least, is a willing partner, although the eight-speed’s electronic shifter design will likely change from the prototype’s current T-shaped handle lifted from the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

So, what are its chances for production? Quite good, at least for the next-generation Frontier, which is still two or three years away. By then, the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-size pickups will be on the streets with their own 2.8-liter four-cylinder diesel. This Frontier would give Nissan a compression-ignition answer to those trucks, one brandishing the Cummins name, no less. Hey, it worked wonders for Dodge and Ram trucks.

It’s too early to nail down a price for the Cummins-powered Frontier, but expect to pay a decent premium over a comparably equipped gas V-6 version. Based on the $25K currently charged for a Frontier S 2WD short-wheelbase Crew Cab V-6 automatic, the Cummins diesel version would likely push $30,000.

Certainly, if enthusiasm among the Nissan and Cummins people dictated the decision, a production Frontier diesel would be here tomorrow. “I hope Nissan goes for it,” said Sanders. “At this point, it would almost be cruel if it didn’t.” We agree.

As read on: http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/nissan-frontier-cummins-diesel-prototype-drive-review

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First look: 2015 Nissan Murano keeps concept car lines

Third-gen crossover will have 20 percent better mpg, tuned CVT, lower drag

When Nissan introduced the production version of the third-generation Murano at the New York auto show this year, the crowds were somewhere between surprised and shocked that the undulatory exterior and wacky roof pillars of the concept hadn’t been dulled down in production trim the way most concepts are. The wavy forms down the side and the sloping roof were still there, no doubt terrifying the metal stamping machines at the beast’s Canton, Miss. production plant.

But that exterior contributes as much to the vehicle’s significant improvements as anything else. When it arrives in showrooms in December the Murano will be 130 pounds lighter, 20 percent more fuel efficient and its cd will have dropped by .06 to 0.31. All of those improvements are interrelated.

Nissan said it was able to lower the curb weight through design efficiencies and with the selective use of high-strength steel, particularly in areas beefed up for better side-impact protection. While no 2015 specifictions were released, if you knock off 130 pounds from the current Murano’s heft you get curb weights for the 2015 model that will range from 3693 to 4025 pounds. That’s less than V6-powered competitors like the Ford Edge and Toyota Venza but a little more than four-cylinder competitors like the Hyundai Santa Fe and Ford Escape.

Turns out that sculpted exterior is functional, too. While the basic shape and proportions haven’t changed compared to the Resonance concept that debuted at the 2013 Detroit show, the surface of it has, up to an inch and a half here and there as needed for better laminar airflow. The new head- and taillights, as extreme as the rest of the shapes, help reduce drag, as well. The production model spent three times the number of hours in the wind tunnel compared to the 2014 Murano. That’s what it takes to get from 0.37 to 0.31 cd.

The standard Xtronic CVT transmission – the only one that will be offered – is more efficient, with reduced internal friction, Nissan says. As with the four-cylinder Altima and Rogue, the 2015 Murano CVT will get D-Step Shift logic to provide the illusion that it is a traditional automatic transmission. Faking shifts appears to reassure customers that there is nothing wrong with their trannies, and gives enthusiast drivers something to do going around corners. The D-Step shift algorithms come next to the Versa, Versa Note, Sentra, Altima V6, Pathfinder and Quest. It seems like there’s no going away from CVTs at Nissan.

All the above increases the 2015 Murano’s fuel economy from 20 EPA combined in the current vehicle to an estimated 24 in the coming ride.

That will be with virtually the same 260-hp, 240-lb-ft 3.5-liter V6 engine as before. That front- or all wheel-drive powertrain will provide 0-60 acceleration “in the sixes,” according to Nissan, though specific times have not been released.

Product planners described the new Murano’s interior as “premium social lounge” meant to “enhance the togetherness of front and rear passengers.”

“This is for the older empty nester couple and their friends,” explained senior product planning manager Scott Pak.

The Rogue is for young couples with one kid, the Pathfinder’s for families with two children, and when the kids finally leave the parents get a Murano.  The lounge aspect of that interior will be centered on what Nissan calls its “zero-gravity” seats. These feature three layers of urethane, grippy side bolsters and three (as opposed to the normal two) points of contact and support for your kiester. The front seats can be ordered as climate controlled meaning heating and cooling is available.

What used to be known as the instrument cluster but which is now known as the “drive assist display” is a seven-inch reconfigurable full-color screen. Over on the center console is an eight-inch capacity touch NAV display that helps reduce the number of so-called hard buttons from 25 to 10. It includes the popular pinch and swipe gestures that the kids love so much on their phones.

Safety features include: blind spot warning, cross-traffic alert, moving object detection, forward emergency braking and forward collision warning. Lane departure warning was not included in the new Murano’s options because Nissan said customers were not wanting it as much. (That’s corporatespeak for, “It drove people crazy!”)

Behind the second row of seats there is 7.8 more cubic feet of cargo space, a huge leap in capacity, especially considering that the new Murano is only 2.5 inches longer than the current one.

So that’s what we learned after we spent a day at Nissan’s Arizona proving grounds with a production prototype. Okay, we learned more than that but we can’t tell you. Driving impressions are under embargo till sometime around December. So despite having negotiated the high-speed oval, various rough-road surfaces and the really fun road course with whoop-dee-doos, expansion joints, frost heaves and manhole covers scattered at all the apexes, we can’t tell you whether the coming Murano crossover is really fun to drive or whether it blows. Sorry.

Look for more info in a few months.

– See more at: http://autoweek.com/article/car-news/2015-nissan-murano-updates#sthash.MeXpVZsF.dpuf

2014 Nissan Versa Note named one of the “10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000” by Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com

– 2014 model earns selection for fun-to-drive and fun-to-own characteristics –

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After a record-breaking sales month* in June, the 2014 Nissan Versa Note is now one of the coolest cars on the block. Recently, Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com named the Versa Note to its “10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000” list. The recognition follows news that Nissan Versa sales increased a record-high 30.5 percent in May.

To compile the annual list, Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com editors used two “critical” criteria – fun-to-drive and fun-to-own – to determine a vehicle’s “cool factor.” Additionally, vehicles must be available for purchase at $18,000 or less, using Kelley Blue Book’s exclusive Fair Purchase Price – a pricing tool that shows what others have been paying for a new car that week, based on data from thousands of purchases, vehicle availability, local demand, seasonal buying trends and “over 85 years of values experience.”

“The Nissan Versa Note is truly ‘the door to more,’ offering an exceptional combination of style, comfort, technology and cargo space at a price even the most economical car buyers can appreciate,” said Fred Diaz, senior vice president, Nissan Sales & Marketing and Operations. “Featuring a sleek, modern design with enhanced aerodynamics for improved fuel economy, and class-exclusive Around View® Monitor, the Versa Note is “cool” in in a variety of ways – from the road, to the parking lot, to your wallet.”

The companion to the popular Nissan Versa sedan and featuring a starting MSRP of only $13,990**, Versa Note celebrates the unique qualities of its 5-door hatchback design. It is available in a range of well-equipped models – S, S Plus, SV, SR and SL, each equipped with an advanced 1.6-liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine with dual fuel injection. Xtronic transmission models achieve 40-mpg highway fuel economy.

The long list of available equipment includes NissanConnectSM with Navigation and Mobile Apps, Hands-Free Text Messaging Assistant, Nissan Intelligent Key®, RearView Monitor, Bluetooth® Streaming Audio and class-exclusive*** Around View® Monitor, Divide-N-Hide® Adjustable Floor (adjustable rear load floor height), heated front seats and 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.

To view the complete Kelley Blue Book KBB.com “10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000” list, please visithttp://www.kbb.com/car-reviews-and-news/top-10/coolest-cars-under-18000-2014/.

Nissan Leaf batteries seek second life as home storage

Perhaps you’d be more willing to buy an electric car if you knew that you could sell those pricey batteries down the road.

Nissan and electric power company ABB yesterday announced a partnership to test the technical and commercial feasibility of repurposing used EV batteries for energy storage on the grid and in homes. ABB will work with a joint venture called 4R Energy (for reuse, refabricate, resell, recycle) created by Nissan North America and industrial conglomerate Suminoto to research secondary uses of EV batteries.

The partnership intends to make a prototype stationary lithium ion battery system with at least 50 kilowatt hours of stored energy, which is enough to supply 15 average homes for two hours.

Batteries are the most expensive component of an electric vehicle, costing several thousand dollars depending on the size. After 10 years of driving, automakers expect they will have about 70 percent of their original capacity, which will lower a car’s range.

But the batteries are still workable for many energy storage applications, such as home batteries or buffering the distribution grid. Lithium ion batteries are well suited for delivering bursts of power on the grid for minutes or hours. That means they could be used to create a steady flow of power to consumers as more variable wind and solar power comes onto the grid, said Jochen Kreusel, global head of ABB’s smart grid program.

ABB is already working with GM on a similar project to repurpose Chevy Volt batteries for energy storage.

In addition to the technical challenge of repackaging used batteries, the partnership will seek to answer whether the end stationary storage product is commercially viable. In the past few years, utilities in the U.S. have started to experiment with neighborhood energy storage systems to provide backup for a group of homes and relieve pressure on the grid during peak times.

As read on: http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-57361715-76/nissan-leaf-batteries-seek-second-life-as-home-storage/