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nissan innovations

Nissan’s Around View Monitor already available on some Nissans, including the 2012 Rogue SUV.

Mitsuhiko Yamashita, Nissan Motor's head of research and development, says safety and performance are moving to the forefront of the company's research and development effort, both being given essentially equal status with environmental technologies, electric vehicles like the Leaf first among them.

In fact, reports, Nissan's safety experts have the authority to impose changes to any new vehicle if they decide they are necessary. The first innovations are about to arrive in new production models.

Take the next generation of Nissan's Around View Monitor already available on some Nissans. It will be able to identify whether the driver is on a highway or in a car park, thereby preventing the driver from accelerating into a vehicle or other object, particularly in a confined area. The system can also sense pedestrians both in front and at the rear and alert the driver.

Nissan is also moving ahead on power train development in five areas: diesel engines, smaller capacity engines, hybrids, electric cars and continuously variable transmissions. The goal is to bring about further reductions in fuel consumption and emissions.

Nissan's new hybrid power train and Continuously Variable Transmission or CVT are particularly interesting. The new hybrid is the first front-wheel-drive electric-gasoline system developed in-house by Nissan. To date, Nissan's only hybrid, the discontinued Altima Hybrids, used technology bought from Toyota.

The next Altima will likely get the new hybrid system in 2013. But there is more in store, too. The improved CVT will arrive next year and is also expected in the 2013 Altima. The pulley-type transmission should boost fuel efficiency 10 per cent over today's version.

Meanwhile, the new safety technologies use lower-cost sensor systems that are affordable for buyers of mass-market models across the Nissan lineup. One low-cost system is a camera-based rear danger alert that warns about blind spots, lane departures and objects moving behind the vehicle when a driver is backing up. Nissan is also planning to introduce an accelerator-suppression system which deals with pedal misapplication sometimes traced to incidences of unintended acceleration.