TOKYO - Japanese car buyers have always been ga-ga over gadgets. Now Nissan Motor Co. is marrying that fascination to everyone's concern about health.
In its new 'Inner Green' ad campaign, Nissan is touting a trio of 'healthy' features: anti-bacterial steering wheels and shift-lever knobs, windows that screen out ultraviolet rays, and special air filters that keep pollen and other allergens out of the passenger compartment.
Those gizmos, to be offered on all Nissan cars by the end of the year, are among a number of new gadgets Japanese makers have added in an effort to sell comfort, convenience and a healthy ride. Here are some others:
The Subaru Legacy Grand Wagon features fans on both sides of the luggage space to get rid of smells from, say, a catch of fish or the family dog.
The large Nissan Elgrand van offers two optional TV monitors. One pops up from the instrument panel to serve as the navigation-system screen when driving, or as a TV when the transmission is in park. The second flips down from the ceiling so rear passengers can choose, independently, whether to watch the TV or the navigation maps.
Honda's S-MX, the minivan aimed at couples without children, not only offers seats that fold completely flat like a bed, but also dark-tinted windows and a special pocket for a box of tissues.
In the full-sized Nissan Stagea station wagon, activating a button by the D-pillar will fold the passenger seats flat to lengthen storage space. Then a heavy, dark plastic cover can be pulled out of the spare-tire compartment to either flip over the bumper to prevent scratches or to rest flat on the floor to keep the carpeting dry.
Though not yet available, Toyota is working to upgrade in-vehicle navigation guides based on the Global Positioning System. One improvement aims to locate a vehicle not only by site, but by actual terrain being traversed. If, say, the navigation system determined that the vehicle was descending a steep hill, it would detect that and automatically downshift.