Ever since Nissan launched its Leaf electric hatchback in late 2010, owners around the world have struggled with its on-board Carwings telematics system.
Responsible for everything from initiating remote charging and cabin pre-conditioning through to predicting remaining range and finding charging stations, Carwings hasn’t always been that reliable...or accurate.
Now Nissan is promising an upcoming software update to the Carwings system found in every Nissan Leaf, drastically improving the range prediction algorithms that are responsible for what many Leaf owners have unceremoniously dubbed the “Guess-O-Meter”, or range gauge.
In addition, Nissan says a future update will allow Leaf owners to use Carwings to check the availability of a charging station before they arrive, further improving the experience of driving its electric car.
Current and previous versions of the Nissan Leaf’s on-board software rely on fairly crude information, such as battery state-of-charge and current power demands, to predict how much range is remaining at any given point.
Driving at a fixed speed on an unchanging road at a uniform temperature, Nissan’s latest Leaf software can give reasonable range predictions. Hit a large hill during the middle of a satellite-navigation-aided trip, and you’ll hear the following range-anxiety-inducing words:
2012 Nissan Leaf 4-door HB SL Instrument Panel
2012 Nissan Leaf 4-door HB SL Instrument PanelEnlarge Photo
“You might not be able to reach your destination. Push button to check.”
With the upcoming update, Nissan claims that new Carwings algorithms, alongside Internet-based information retrieved at regular intervals during a trip, will give drivers much more accurate range predictions.
Is there anyone there?
With more charging stations being installed across the U.S. capable of smart-grid connectivity, Nissan is also promising to help reduce the risk of turning up at a charging station to find it is in use already, or broken.
As part of its future plans, Nissan says it is working with select charging station providers to relay information about each individual charging station to Leaf owners.
Soon it says, Leaf owners will be able to check on the status of charging stations provided by select partners, ensuring that Leaf owners will know that detour to a nearby charging station isn’t in vain.
No set date
2011 Nissan Leaf Software Update
2011 Nissan Leaf Software UpdateEnlarge Photo
Combined, these two important updates to the Nissan’s Carwings service should make driving its Nissan Leaf longer distances much less scary to first-time electric car owners.
But while it will no doubt help combat range anxiety, Nissan hasn’t yet given a date for when these updates will be pushed to 2011/12 Nissan Leafs already on the road.