Nissan Unveils Tools for a Truly Networked Electric Car: IT System, iPhone App

nissan-evThe Renault-Nissan Alliance has long said it aims to take the lead in zero-emission mobility. Today, the latter half of that partnership, Nissan, has unveiled what will likely be the last prototype of its electric car due out next year before we see the final version on August 2. Along with the new design — based on the Nissan Tiida/Versa, rather than the Cube like Nissan’s previous electric prototype — the automaker is also offering a glimpse of the IT system and an iPhone application meant to take these models from plug-in vehicles to truly connected cars.

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The IT system in Nissan’s upcoming electric vehicles represents a key part of the company’s contribution to the Car 2.0 era — the idea, as we’ve explained before, that the next generation of cars will be networked to the power grid as well as communication networks, and will have the ease and functionality of our consumer electronics. In combination with the battery supply and expertise that the Renault-Nissan Alliance has as a result of Nissan’s joint venture with battery maker NEC, and the partnerships it has developed for charging infrastructure, the networked car technology that Nissan detailed today could potentially help the Japanese-French team snag that long-sought lead in the nascent EV sector.

Nissan calls its system EV-IT, and it encompasses an onboard transmitting unit connected through mobile networks to a global data center. According to today’s release, drivers will be able to view the driving radius within range of their battery charge level on a navigation map, and also find detailed information about available charging stations within range.

Nissan has also developed a timer function that can be used to start battery-charging at a specific time (the idea is to take advantage of lower electricity rates during off-peak hours). And there’s a cool remote control function that’s supposed to let drivers monitor their battery charge levels online or via an iPhone app, as PC World reports (hat tip Business Insider), with an option to receive an alert when charging is complete and then command the charging system to shut off (it can also be switched on remotely). iPhone users will also be able to access information about the time required for a full charge and the current temperature inside the vehicle. As PC World explains, the mobile app, which will also let drivers control air conditioning and heating, is meant to help make the most of a battery’s charge:

A driver returning to their car on a hot or cold day will typically blast the air conditioning or heater as soon as they start the engine and keep it going until a comfortable temperature is reached. That doesn’t pose too much of a problem on a gasoline-powered car but on an electric car it contributes to battery drain, reducing the car’s range.

With the remote control option, Nissan’s electric car drivers will be able to cool down or heat up their vehicle while it’s still plugged in rather than using the battery after they hit the road.

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