1998 - 2002 Nissan Altra EV
Nissan’s Altra-EV was engineered in 1997 at the
Nissan Technical Center in Atsugi, Japan, and manufactured at the Tochigi
assembly plant. The stated design goal for the Altra-EV was to combine the
versatility of a minivan with the environmental benefits of an EV with a chassis
based on the Nissan R'nessa station wagon manufactured for the Japan
market from 1997 to 2002.
The Altra-EV's manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) was $50,999 (in
1998 US dollars), had a published single charge range of 80 - 100 miles (161
km) and a maximum published range of 120 miles (190 km). Nissan claimed
0-50 mph (0-80 km/h) times of less than 12 seconds and the EPA reported that
the Altra-EV had an adjusted mileage (miles per equivalent of a gasoline
gallon) of 117 mpg-US (2.01 L/100 km; 141 mpg-imp) in city driving and 130
mpg-US (1.8 L/100 km; 160 mpg-imp) in highway driving. The Altra-EV is
rated at 304/342 hwy/city Wh/mi with a maximum speed of 75mph (governed).
The Altra-EV was the first OEM EV of the 1990s to utilize Li-ion (lithium ion)
traction batteries which were developed jointly by Nissan and Sony
Corporation. The traction pack consisted of 96 cells configured in 12 modules
with 8 cells per module. Each module weighs 67lbs., with a traction pack total
weight of 804 lbs. (363kg). Modules were rated at 95 amp hours and a total
pack nominal voltage of 345v. The traction pack was housed in an aluminum
battery carrier located under floor in the center of the vehicle and required five
hours to completely recharge via Delco's (originally Hughes Power Systems)
220vac - 30amp Magne Charge off-board inductive 6.6kW paddle system
(LPI). Nissan also advertised primary benefits of their Li-ion battery system
included accurate state-of-charge measurement lacking “memory effects” of
other advanced battery chemistries of the era (most likely referring to Nickel
Cadmium (NiCd) chemistries). The Li-ion traction pack was expected to have
a charge-discharge rate exceeding 1,200 cycles, or 10 years of service. As
designed, the Altra-EV had a weight distribution ratio of 56% / 44% front / rear.
The Altra EV's four-passenger sedan style body was marketed as a roomy
minivan style interior, and, at the time Nissan boasted that the Alta-EV lacked
their perceived “clumsiness of layout that many other engineer designed
electric cars exhibit.” Nissan also advertised that the Altra-EV was specifically
designed for the American market and had available space for all the things
“Americans lug around.” Nissan seemed to feel (c1998) that the Altra-EV's
styling matched future trends where, as they noted, “tall and functional would
outweigh low and sleek,” yet claimed concurrently that it was designed with
aerodynamic efficiency in mind, yet the Altra-EV's published CD is 0.36.
The Altra-EV was equipped with a neodymium permanent magnet
synchronous motor and a 32-bit high-speed RISC (Reduced Instruction Set
Computing) motor controller processor. Although the motor featured a
compact design; it generated power of 62 kilowatts or 83 horsepower and
maximum torque of 117 ft-lbs. at 13,000 rpm. The unique magnetic circuitry
and lightweight design (approximately 85 pounds) of the Altra-EV's motor
made it possible to achieve a high overall energy efficiency of approximately
90% under ordinary driving conditions with a motor weight <40% that of
conventional induction motors.
Vehicle curb weight equaled 3,940lbs., GVWR of 4,579lbs., with a payload of
820lbs. Wheelbase equaled 110.2in., length 191.7in., width 69.5in., hieght
66.8in., and ground clearance was 7.5in.
Standard features on the Altra-EV included regenerative braking, front
and rear ABS brakes (front disc, rear drum), pre-programmable air
conditioning, power windows, power locks, cruise control, dual airbags, remote
keyless entry, state of charge (SOC) control system, 15-inch aluminum alloy
wheels, front and rear captain's chairs, and a 100-watt AM/FM/CD audio
system. The Altra-EV's rack & pinion steering was powered by an electric
motor and only utilized power when called for. The turning radius was 36.2 ft.
and a steering wheel lock-to-lock 4.11 turns. It also uses modified Nissan
Maxima's front and rear suspension components to handle the increased
weight of the EV traction pack.
Thirty (30) Altra-EVs were believed to be imported into the United States in
1998, with plans for another 98 units in 1999 - 2002. Of those originally
imported vehicles, the first 15 units were planned for the So. Cal markets under
leases to utility companies including Southern California Edison (6 units),
Pacific Gas and Electric (3 units), Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
(4 units), and San Diego Gas and Electric (2 units).
Only two (2) of the Altra-EVs are known to exist today (c2016). One is in
Nissan's Heritage Collection in Nashville, TN, and the other is here
at the Beata Electric Motor Carriage Collection. The
Beata Collection's Altra-EV is the last production Altra-EV made.
Pictures coming soon ...
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