Nissan used the Geneva auto show this week to unveil its concept for what electric cars of the future might look like. Not in terms of styling, mind you, but in terms of what the synergy between electric cars, the internet, and renewable energy could accomplish. Nissan calls its vision “The Fuel Station Of The Future.”
Working in partnership with British design firm Foster + Partners, it imagines electric cars that can recharge themselves wirelessly both at home and elsewhere. Nissan is placing emphasis on wireless charging technology. Its chargers area only capable of 3 kW of power at present. It wants to boost that to 7 kW or more. By comparison, a Tesla home charger operates at around 10 kW.
One thing that autonomous driving technology can do is precisely align a car with a wireless charging hub. Proper alignment is critical to maximizing speed of charging. Even a variation of a few inches can cut efficiency dramatically. Nissan expects that for charging away from home, self driving cars could undock themselves when charging is complete and move themselves to an available parking space. Another autonomous car could then be summoned to use the wireless charging hub.
But Nissan’s vision is broader than that. It envisions electric cars serving as sort of a Tesla PowerWall on wheels. Using the wireless hub, the battery could be used to power a home, store electrical energy from residential solar panels and wind turbines, and help to supply power to the grid in an emergency. Vehicle to grid (V2G) systems are still in their infancy. According to Gizmag, Nissan thinks connecting cars to the grid with the help of advanced algorithms will become commonplace in the future. Cars will sometimes draw power from the home or local grid and sometimes give it back.
David Nelson, co-head of design at Foster + Partners, says a connected grid can be sustainable, innovative, and do more than simply refuel cars. “Integrating zero emission technologies into the built environment is vital in creating smarter, more sustainable cities,” says Nelson. “That commitment must extend far beyond the car – it must sit at the heart of everything we do.”
Such an interconnected system is far off. But Nissan is determined to lead the way forward in collaboration with Foster + Partners and other visionary firms.
Photo Credits: Nissan, Foster + Partners