Nissan Motor Co., maker of the Leaf battery-electric car, said it’s developing a system that will power vehicles with electricity generated from bio-ethanol, as the company spreads its bets on alternative fuels for future transportation.
The carmaker plans to introduce the powertrain for fleet sales by 2020, said Hideyuki Sakamoto, executive vice president in charge of development. The ethanol-powered vehicle will have a driving range of more than 600 kilometers (373 miles), similar to gasoline-engine cars, Nissan said in a statement Tuesday.
Automakers are divided on which fuel will become the mainstream energy for future zero-emission cars. Companies led by Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor Co. are championing hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles as they offer range and refueling times similar to internal-combustion engines, unlike battery-electric cars like Nissan Leaf or Tesla Model S, which take longer to recharge.
Unlike conventional fuel-cell vehicles that use a special tank for hydrogen, Nissan’s system will utilize liquid fuel and a conventional tank, and will generate hydrogen through reformation of pure ethanol or ethanol-blended water. It then uses a solid oxide fuel-cell system to generate power from hydrogen and air, according to the company.
Nissan said its bio-ethanol fuels, including those derived from sugarcane and corn, are widely available in countries in Asia, North and South America, and the vehicles will have running costs that will be on par with electric vehicles. The automaker in 2013 had agreed with Daimler AG and Ford Motor Co. to jointly develop conventional hydrogen-powered vehicles. The vehicle’s introduction will probably be delayed from the earlier plan for 2017, Nicholas Maxfield, a Nissan spokesman, said.
By Ma Jie