Nissan Updates ‘Carwings’ to Quell Leaf Range Anxiety
If you’ve already driven a pure electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf, then you’re probably aware of just how unnerving range anxiety can be.
In the short term, Nissan has said it will alleviate range anxiety by improving driver data readout, and in a few years it’s also believed to be working on a double-capacity battery – though for now we can only affirmatively report the “Carwings” telematics update.
A need for further refinement of Leaf data readout has been apparent. Depending on where you live and proximity to charging infrastructure, it’s often a daunting task deciding which journeys to undertake and which to forgo.
It’s not exactly uncommon to set out believing you had more than enough energy in reserve to make it only to discover that due to traversing steep hills or a detour en route, you won’t be able to go the distance.
For those that have driven the Leaf, this scenario can prove quite unnerving, due to the not always reliable nature of the car’s onboard Carwings telematics system.
Designed to provide information such as range required to reach a destination, battery charge necessary to get there, as well as pinpointing charging stations en route, Carwings hasn’t been able to take into account such aspects as elevation changes.
Just as disappointing, when it came to locating charging stations, it wasn’t able to tell you if said stations were available, or even operating, only that they merely existed.
Given that under real-world driving conditions the Leaf delivers a range of approximately 70 miles, for anybody who plans on regular commuting distances of 25 miles or more to work, this can present a significant problem.
Nissan is now hoping to alleviate these concerns by changing to more advanced algorithms that not only take into account elevation and route changes, but also whether charging stations on route are available or operable.
The company hasn’t exactly said when the new Carwings software will be available, only that it’s coming.
And while we’re on the subject of range anxiety, there have been rumors for the last few years that an improved battery pack is under development, able to extend the Leaf’s range to well beyond the nominal “100 miles” up to around 186, if estimates prove correct.
The unit in question is said to employ a lithium nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) oxide cathode, one that is said to provide double the energy capacity of the manganese spinel cell used in the Leaf’s current battery pack.
Although there’s been research into developing batteries with NMC cathodes, including tests done by Argonne Laboratories here in the U.S., as far as Nissan is concerned mum’s currently the word.
“We don’t talk about future product and can NOT confirm any changes in battery technology,” said Nissan USA spokesperson Katherine Zachary.
Nonetheless rumors of a 2015 introduction of this battery system, possibly on the Infinti LE as well as the Leaf, continue to persist.
The fact that Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn remains optimistic about the future of pure EVs, going so far as to predict a 10 percent market share among his company’s vehicles sold by the end of the decade, only serves to add fuel to the fire.