Nissan deploys its LIDAR ambitions, Chevrolet confirms two electrified Corvettes, Datsun is no more. All this and more on today’s issue of The Morning Dump.
Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.
While the future of autonomy seems about as murky as Everglades’ swamp waters, Nissan seems to know what they’re doing by betting on LIDAR. More importantly, the Japanese carmaker is further along the path to Level 3 autonomy than we might think. According to Automotive News, Nissan gave a slightly unusual demonstration of its LIDAR tech last week at the Oppama proving ground south of Tokyo.
See, Nissan doesn’t believe that Level 3 autonomy will be ready until it can dodge just about anything, so the company brought out a sort of automotive Takeshi’s Castle. A LIDAR-equipped Nissan Skyline (cool your jets, Toretto, it’s an Infiniti Q50) is said to have dodged cars, loose tires, road debris and mannequins at up to 100 km/h (62 mph) without human steering or braking input. If this feels like a big deal, that’s because it is. Right now, Level 3 autonomy focuses on safe and predictable lower-speed environments rather than highway driving and sheer corner -case capability, so Nissan’s heavy focus on collision avoidance feels like the next necessary step.
As for the system itself, Nissan has partnered with two fairly innovative companies to achieve this crash avoidance feat. The first is Luminar, a leader in the LIDAR industry that was able to make Nissan a wider-angle, higher-resolution LIDAR unit than what’s currently commercially available. A vertical field-of-view above 25 degrees, 300 meters of forward range detection and resolution down to 0.05 degrees is impressive stuff that allows for much more data collection. The next step is data interpretation, as high-res imaging is useless without the computing power to process it. To do that, Nissan has teamed up with Applied Intuition for autonomous simulation and software development. Heavy-hitting stuff. Then again, Nissan needs to bring out the big guns to meet its internal targets. The company plans on finalizing its Level 3 autonomous system “in the mid 2020s,” rolling the system out to almost every car they make by fiscal year 2030. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not far away at all.
Chevy Causes A Jortquake
After years of speculation by media, fans, and jean-short wearing ‘vette owners, GM has officially announced that two electrified Corvettes are on their way. In an interview with CNBC’s Phil LeBeau on Monday, GM President Mark Reuss didn’t just confirm plans to electrify GM’s halo car, he threw out a timeline for the first model. The 3/4 race cam Vette traditionalists must be shaking in their New Balances. Next year will mark the introduction of a Corvette model with some sort of electric assistance. Whether it’ll be a PHEV or a traditional hybrid is still up in the air, but news will land within the next 20 months. Until then, Chevrolet has released this video.
— Chevrolet (@chevrolet) April 25, 2022
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a small block V8 to me. It also looks like the front tires are electrically-assisted, pretty much confirming reports that the electrified Corvette will be all-wheel-drive. Adding electric assist to a reasonably potent engine should give the C8 proper supercar shove, NSX performance from Kentucky’s plastic hero. On an unrevealed timeline sits a fully-electric Corvette, a really interesting proposition in the wake of Porsche announcing a future electric 718 sports car.
Honda Cranks Up The Rheostat
It’s no secret that Honda isn’t the most innovative manufacturer on the planet when it comes to moving quickly on battery electric vehicles. In fact, the Japanese automaker hasn’t offered a battery electric vehicle in America since 1999, when the last EV Plus was built for the California Air Resource Board’s EV pilot project. However, this lull in electrification is about to end soon with a plan to build heaps and heaps of EVs in North America. Speaking with Automotive News, Honda’s electrification boss Shinji Aoyama revealed a company plan to produce around 800,000 EVs in North America by 2030. It’s not quite the full Doctor Evil, but 800,000 of anything is a big number.
Mind you, it’s worth noting that 800,000 EVs produced in North America doesn’t mean 800,000 EVs sold in North America. For instance, the Honda Odyssey minivan and Honda Pilot three-row crossover are built in America and exported to markets such as the Middle East and South Korea. It’s unlikely that all of these planned EVs will be sold in North America, but the bulk of them likely will.
Datsun Has Set On The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Empire
Look, I’m not saying that entry-level car brands are all inherently doomed, but they don’t seem to have the greatest track record. Saturn and Scion said sayonara, as did Geo and WiLL. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Datsun is doing the same, but here we are. Some nine years after reviving the Datsun name as a sub-brand for emerging markets, Nissan has pulled the plug.
According to Nissan, the last Datsun Redi-GO subcompact five-door hatchback rolled off the line in Chennai, India in March. No signing of the hood, no special commemoration video, no fanfare whatsoever. You know, this shouldn’t be surprising. Automotive News reports that Datsun sold 470,000 vehicles over the years, not nearly enough to justify the brand’s existence. Between a zero-star NCAP crash test and buyers seeking more mature vehicles, there just wasn’t much to motivate people into a Datsun. As for what to do with the brand, who knows? Maybe in a decade or two, the c-suite will want to try the budget car thing again. History doesn’t repeat itself, but it sure knows how to rhyme.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on this edition of The Morning Dump. With the Dump’s opening blurb about morning coffee on my mind, I’ve been wondering what your stance is on consuming bean-based liquid in your car. Personally, I’m alright with it. Interior cleaners exist for a reason, the factory cup holders in my E90 3-Series are actually quite good and a double-double from Tim Hortons goes well with heated seats, Broken Social Scene on the stereo and a crisp spring breeze wafting through a tilted sunroof.
Lead photo credit: Nissan