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Monday, July 4, 2022

Supply Chain Disruptions, Lack Of New Cars Helped Nissan To Reflect On What's Important


The global pandemic and the supply chain disruptions that followed was a reflective time for Nissan. Amidst the uncertainty of new vehicle supply, the Japanese auto giant realized that to succeed, they had to be done with chasing outright numbers.

In her first visit to the Philippines, Asako Hoshino, Nissan Executive Vice President in charge of global marketing and sales and brand champion says the carmaker plans to win customers over not necessarily with a cheap price tag, but with technology.

Hoshino admits that Chinese carmakers are already where Japanese cars were a decade or so ago, and combined with their affordable price tag, could make them irresistible to some car buyers. That’s not the sort of buyers Nissan is targeting.

Instead, Nissan wants to target customers who seek forward-thinking technology—far beyond the ordinary like cameras or fancy screens. The Nissan customer, Hoshino says, look at two things: electrification and safety—things that give them an edge against the competition. Ultimately, the end-goal is to achieve full autonomous or self-drive technology, but to get there, these two pillars are deemed integral.

When the Nissan Leaf was launched eleven years ago, Hoshino remembers that other carmakers thought them crazy saying that they should have gone for hybrids instead. Today, the world’s first mass-produced EV didn’t just help contribute to the popularity of all-electric vehicles, but thanks to accumulating over 3.5 billion kilometers in real-world mileage enabled them to come up with e-Power which provides an EV-like driving experience without the range anxiety.

Serving as a gateway to the full EV experience, e-Power uses an electric motor to drive the wheels. A small, highly-efficient gasoline engine is present primarily to charge the lithium-ion battery pack. Aside from offering up to 26.3 km/L in city driving, it gives a powerful and smooth drive thanks to its near-instant torque of 280 Nm from zero rpm.

Hoshino believes e-Power is a game-changer for the brand, and will help them democratize electrification in the Philippines.

On the second pillar, safety, Nissan made a commitment as early as 2015 that they are working towards a future with zero fatalities by incorporating technologies that not only protect people in the event of a crash, but also help mitigate crash risks.

With 1.35 million people dying each year in traffic accidents globally, the carmaker isn’t just relying on a multitude of airbags and crumple zones; they going further than that. Today, their vehicles contain sensors and cameras that can monitor vehicles and pedestrians that may be difficult for drivers to see. In times of potential danger, the vehicle can judge in an instant how to help avoid or lessen the danger.

From there, it’s all about coming up with full autonomous drive that can be confidently used in a wide range of scenarios. Thanks to Nissan Intelligent Mobility, Nissan has developed vehicles that offer an intuitive driving experience. This creates a high level of trust between the driver and the vehicle—an approach they plan to continue when developing autonomous drive technologies.

So far, Nissan has come up with ProPilot 2.0 which enables hands-free driving when cruising in a single lane. By using 360-degree sensing, the system can cruise on designated roadways, pass slower vehicles, and even navigate a road divide.

It took challenging market conditions for Nissan to rekindle their identity, but it helped them re-focus on the things that matter. Now, Hoshino believes they will emerge stronger than ever. She reminds that Nissan has always, “dared the impossible.” Given the progress they’ve made, they’re certainly making the impossible, possible.

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