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Few have been optimistic about the market for plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles, but Edison Foundation believes there will be at least 5 million of them on the road by 2035.
And with talk of adding a new edition to the Nissan lineup of crossovers in Europe, namely the Juke, Murano and Qashqai, that means a production version of the Hi-Cross will pick up where the boxy X-Trail left off.
As for the US, well Nissan dealers said they didn’t want the X-Trail when it was first introduced in 2005, but given how fast things change in the auto business, what might have seemed like a good idea then, probably isn’t now or in the near future, so such a vehicle might have a fighting chance this time around.
Nissan says the Hi-Cross showcases the future direction of corporate vehicle design, though it does have an aura of Infiniti FX about it, thanks to its coke bottle contours. Although a compact, the Hi-Cross boasts three-row seating, giving it considerable interior flexibility as well as great potential sales appeal.
Utilizing a development of Nissan’s new Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) drivetrain, the Hi-CROSS combines a 2.0-liter gas four-cylinder engine with an electric motor and compact lithium ion battery system. The result is said to provide the performance of a 2.5-liter motor with the fuel economy and emissions of a much smaller engine.
As for the transmission, well it probably isn’t surprising that a version of Nissan’s XTRONIC CVT is employed, though smaller pulleys and a new belt have been incorporated to improve efficiency, while a “one motor, two clutch” system allows the gasoline engine to be engaged and uncoupled at will.
Although Nissan’s Deputy Division General Manager of Product Strategy François Bancon, says the Hi-CROSS is “purely a concept car, exploring potential ideas for the future,” it does seem rather advanced for such a machine, plus the segment it’s aimed at is currently one of the most lucrative of all, which begs the question; could a production model be announced in New York or Paris? Watch this space.
GALLERY: Nissan Hi-Cross Concept
A what you may ask? Well, a hybrid pickup, a dual powertrain vehicle that uses a gasoline engine, but instead of an electric motor and batteries, relies on a reservoir, accumulator and hydraulic pump as its secondary source for motivation.
Hydraulic hybrids are not new, but until now they’ve largely been used on concept vehicles and delivery or garbage trucks; vehicles that spend a lot of time in urban driving cycles and under frequent stop/start conditions.
A hydraulic hybrid system works by having fluid stored under pressure in the accumulator, which is converted into energy and transmitted to the vehicle’s rear wheels via what Perry Li, co-deputy director of the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (a real mouthful, that) calls a “power split hydraulic hybrid architecture.”
The CCEFP has teamed up with Ford Motor Company to work on the concept, using a F-150 as the subject vehicle. The truck is powered by a 4.6-liter single overhead cam V8, but uses a special continuously variable transmission built by Folsom Technologies. Whereas some hybrid gas/electric trucks, like Chevy’s Silverado, use electric motors inside the transmission to provide power to the driven wheels, this one uses hydraulic pump motors. Combined with the CVT, the hydraulic system allows power to be variably split between the gas engine and the secondary power source, improving fuel economy.
How much? Well, a conventional 4.6-liter F-150 has a combined city/highway mileage ratings of 18-mpg. With the CVT and hydraulic system operating, Li claims the same truck can likely deliver as much as 40-mpg in urban driving!
The CCEFP is a national network of seven universities and 55 industrial partners which is funded by the National Science Foundation, whose mission is to pursue innovation in the areas of hydraulic and pneumatic technology, including small, efficient powertrains for vehicles.
Li says that he hopes to have a running, driving hydraulic hybrid prototype F-150 on the road by the end of this year.
It will be interesting to see if his claims can actually be supported by raw data. If they can, it looks like the future of our beloved pickup truck might not be electric at all and from many angles, particularly as it applies to heavier vehicles and commercial fleets, that’s probably a good thing.
[Source: Pickup trucks.com]
At the recent IAA Commercial Vehicle Expo in Hanover, Germany; MBtech a subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz unveiled a striking concept truck called the Reporter.
Stylistically the Report looks like what would happen if a modern European B-car and a pop-up camping trailer were left alone for a few hours, but it does incorporate some innovative features, including flexible strips of solar material that are both removable and storable.
The solar ‘roof’ helps charge the vehicle’s 12-volt battery, important considering that the Reporter is a natural gas-electric propelled conveyance; the two motors working together to allow this truck to reach a top speed of more than 80 mph and a range of 186 miles before recharging. What’s very interesting, is that besides working together, each power source can also operate independently – the 70 kW electric motor driving the rear wheels, while the 1.2-liter natural gas unit powers the fronts. In addition the gas engine can also run on regular petrol (gasoline) considerably extending the vehicle’s range.
The Reporter also boasts three different operating modes 4Dynamic (for maximum power when hauling or towing); 4Range (that minimizes fuel consumption) and Eco, where the vehicle runs purely on electric power. Considering that weight remains a challenge with many electric and hybrid type vehicles, the Reporter concept is constructed using a large amount of aluminum and carbon fiber reinforced plastics in order to keep mass to a minimum. Although the vehicle shown here is very much a concept, MBtech claims that eventual production is a very real possibility. At the IAA show, the company stated “two further project phases will follow soon.” Watch this space.
[Source: Pickup trucks.com]