TOKYO -- Nissan Motor Co. soon will be putting more fuel-efficient cars on U.S. roads, thanks to a Japanese tax break that takes effect tomorrow.
The Japanese government is slashing taxes on automobiles that have very low emissions or beat Japans fuel economy standards by a specified amount.
To capture customers lured by the breaks, Nissan speeded up the introduction of several fuel-saving technologies. The move has increased the number of Nissan models eligible for the tax breaks by seven, to 13, the company said today.
Now Nissan wants to bring some of those technologies to the United States.
They could start coming this year, said Tetsuya Takahashi, general manager of Nissans powertrain performance department. We will take advantage of year-2010 models to introduce these technologies. We want to quickly roll them out in other markets.
There are around 50 quick fixes being used to increase fuel economy in Japan, Takahashi said. Chief among them are tweaks to Nissans continuously variable transmissions, the addition of air dams and the use of high-capacity lead-acid batteries to ease strain on engines.
One technology with easy application in the United States is an oil warmer for Nissans CVTs, Takahashi said. The warmer helps the transmissions ramp up to optimal performance faster in cold weather.
Look for that upgrade in minor model changes of the Versa and Sentra, he said.
Other technologies being rolled out in Japan are eco-pedals that push back on lead-footed drivers and transmissions that automatically shift to neutral from drive when the car idles.
The changes have increased the Versas mileage to 47.0 mpg from 45.6 under Japanese government efficiency standards, which are not directly comparable to U.S. mileage calculations. The Cubes fuel economy climbed to 47.0 mpg from 45.2.