ATSUGI, Japan — Nissan plans a new all-wheel-drive electric drivetrain, a sweeping pillar-to-pillar digital cockpit display and even a virtual-reality avatar to keep drivers company in their self-driving cars.
The automaker unveiled its plans for a next-generation technology blitz here at its advanced technology center outside Tokyo this month.
Some of the goodies — such as the full-electric awd system — are closer to production than others. But the offerings underscore Nissan Motor Co.'s push to promote itself as a leader in the burgeoning fields of electrification, autonomous driving and connectivity.
Among the powertrain developments, Nissan says it is working on its own solid-state battery technology for electric vehicles as well as a super-efficient internal combustion engine.
Speaking during a briefing at the tech center, Kazuhiro Doi, Nissan vice president of r&d engineering, said solid-state batteries will be safer than today's lithium ion batteries while offering greater energy density at lower costs.
"This can be a real game changer," Doi said.
Nissan is developing the technology in-house with partners, added Atsushi Teraji, deputy general manager of powertrain and EV engineering.
The solid-state batteries will likely be market-ready within 10 years, Teraji reckoned.
Nissan is also working on more efficient internal combustion engines to use as an electricity generator in the company's range of e-Power hybrid vehicles. Those vehicles use a small gasoline engine to charge a battery that runs an electric motor, which then turns the wheels.
Nissan said the thermal efficiency of its engines is around 40 percent today, but it expects to boost that to 50 percent as early as 2040. Thermal efficiency is a measure of how much energy is lost to heat through internal combustion. A higher efficiency rate is better.
Nissan believes it will get there through a combination of efforts, such as developing more efficient lean-burn combustion cycles, making improvements in heat recovery and taking new approaches to variable compression.