Future Cars

Nissan to introduce EV range extenders, single-lane semi-autonomy in Japan

While the range extender doesn't appear to be coming to the US, Nissan's self-driving system most definitely will.

Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Nissan's range-extending system first debuted on the Gripz concept from last year's Frankfurt Motor Show.

Wayne Cunningham/Roadshow

Two major technological leaps that automakers are currently working on are extending the range of electric vehicles and developing semi-autonomous-driving systems. According to Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, his company is working on both of them right now, and they should be out in Japan relatively soon.

Automotive News reports that Ghosn outlined both technologies as part of Nissan's annual shareholders meeting. The hybrid system that includes the range extender, named E-Power, already had a sort-of debut on Nissan's Gripz crossover concept. Range extenders use onboard gas-powered motors to provide juice when the battery gets low, and it's one way to help combat range anxiety on EVs without big batteries.

As for the semi-autonomous system, it's engineered to provide steering assistance in a single lane without driver input. Ghosn didn't apparently go into detail, but it seems similar to systems coming out from both Mercedes-Benz and Volvo. Tesla's Autopilot will help you change lanes, which is a feature that many automakers have not yet introduced.

Perhaps more interesting is the comment that the range-extending E-Power powertrain will debut not on the electric Nissan Leaf, but rather on a different, new compact. We won't have to wait very long to find out what that is, as Automotive News reports that both technologies will debut in Japan before April of next year.

The range extender does not appear to be slated for the US, and I've reached out to Nissan to ask why. As for the semi-autonomous system, that'll end up in Japan, the US, Europe and China.