##### 20 July 2006

Nissan will produce the Armada full-size SUV as an E85 flex-fuel vehicle beginning in 2007. Nissan made the announcement during the just concluded Summer Meeting of the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC).

The 2007 E85 full-size SUV Armada will have a 5.6-liter V8 engine, offer three-row, eight-passenger seating and up to 9,100-pound maximum towing capacity.

The gasoline version of the Armada offers fuel economy of 13 mpg US city, 19 mpg US highway, and 15 mpg US combined. Sales of the Armada for the first six months of 2006 are down 23% compared to the first half of 2005, with 15,924 units sold compared to 20,641.

Nissan began offering the 5.6-liter Titan truck as a flexible fuel vehicle (FFV) in 2005. The company plans on producing approximately 55,000 flexible fuel Titans this year and plans to produce about 20,000 FFV Armadas in model year 2007.

Both the Titan and Armada will be available in North Central, South Central, South East, and Mid-Atlantic regions where there are the highest concentrations of E85 stations. Nissan will manufacture both E85 vehicles at its Canton, Mississippi plant.

Is there a specific reason why all of the "flex fuel" vehicles have the bigger, gas-guzzling engines? Is there something about making an engine run on E85 that precludes using it on smaller, more efficient engines?

Maybe burning a lot of E85 makes one feel like they're helping out more to reduce our oil addiction. :) I think they should at least optimize the engine to run on E85 so it would get sorry fuel mileage on regular gas instead. Isn't the stuff around 110 octane? That should allow a more efficient engine even if the energy is less than regular gas, right?

With the limited availability of E85, I think it would be impractical to optimize an engine for E85 at this point. That's a more dramatic change than just swapping a few rubber hoses. To really take advantage, you'd have to significantly raise the compression ratio. If you do that, it would be hard to prevent knocking when using even 93 octane gas and adjusting the spark timing....

That's also why solutions like Saab's Biopower concept are a perfect option for flex-fuel cars. While I do not believe it can change the compression ratio, it can increase the turbo boost pressures to take advantage of the higher octane of E85.

If memory serves, Saab did start to develop an engine that could vary it's compression ratio. It sort of pivoted on it's crankshaft. I haven't seen anything on this in a while though.

If you make a vehicle FFV, it counts about 50% higher for your CAFE score than it otherwise would. Since the Armada is only 15mpg EPA, well below the 22mpg or so you're supposed to be at, making it FFV counts as about 22.5mpg for its CAFE score, putting it safely above the minimum requirement.

Oh, and ethanol is 110 RON, 92 MON, so it works out to "only" 101 octane on the North American (R+M)/2 scale.

You got to admit, it is a nice looking truck. But holy overkill batman! Pull almost 10 000 lbs??

I know there are some (a small minority) who need this consistently, but it's got to be cheaper to drive a good car all year and rent a truck once a year for those who *need* to pull their yacht to the water-front, than driving this around all year. Just a thought.

What does this truck cost anyway? $50 000?? Angelo, Saab did. It showed a prototype variable compression engine at the Geneva show in 2000. Interesting efficiency potential for use with E100 if they could crank up the compression ratio high enough. From a customer perspective, the E85 thing in these big SUVs is all smoke and mirrors. Somehow I guess people think they can feel a little less guilty by doing this. The vast majority of the people who would buy this car wouldn't use E85 in it anyways. Armada sales is down 23 % in YTD-2006 compared to YTD-2005 and Titan sales is down 12 %. So they are trying to use E85 as an excuse to market it. Ideally they should remove the truck chassis in Armada and sell it as CUV. GM is launching 3 CUV's knowing very well that SUV sales are going down. Overall, SUV sales are down 13 for this year. Nissan already has two CUV's, the Murano and FX35 / FX45. The Armada's whole purpose is that body on frame construction gives you the ability for monumental towing capability. The Murano and FX have maximum towing of just 3500 pounds - barely enough for a small boat and trailer. Renting is an excellent idea (as stated above). Those 3-4 times a year when you need a big vehicle for hauling goods go rent a Nissan Armada or Titan. The rest of the year you could do just fine with a Nissan Versa or Sentra. The cost and fuel savings would be enormous in that manner as opposed to the masses who drive an SUV daily. Even if you rented a SUV or truck every other weekend during the summer the savings on registration, insurance, maintenance, and daily gas use by keeping a smaller vehicle for your commuting needs throughout the year just make sense to me. According to http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/byfueltype.htm there are only 5 FFV with V6 engine, whereas nearly 30 vehicles are with V8 engine and 0 vehicle with V4. I am sure both GM & Ford are selling V4 FFV in Brazil. For some reason, they are not bring that here. Yes Sid Armada/Titan can do monumental towing. But its the factories / farms who need that sort of vehicle. Not many individuals need, no wonder their YTD-sales have crashed 22 & 11 % respectively. Max, there's some 13 million boats registered in the US, plus people tow lots of other heavy things like 5th wheel campers, car trailers, enclosed moving trailers, and all sorts of other things that can easily run over 3500 pounds. Until the US becomes poor enough for pleasure craft to become too expensive for personal ownership, large vehicles will still have a certain number of buyers. Hmm - 13 million boats, ideally the boats should have wheels and with powerful marine engine, they should drive on the road without being towed. Even better, if companies could rent a boat (like they rent trailer/camper now) near the beach, that could be very ideal. Its true, the boat owners need trucks, but that family could have 1 pickup and another a small CUV. But for those who dont have any boat, camper, trailer can simply settle for a smaller vehicle. Yes, the Americans are very rich, now the Arabs / Russians also want to become very rich, thats why they have increased benchmark oil price from$25 - $50 and are happy with$70 / barrel.

Just 2 years ago, this time, Oil prices were below $35 and now its above$70.

I dont know why the US doesn't just mandate E85 by 2040 and be done.

Sid:
Renting of big vehicle works perfectly when you want to relocate, and truck/cargo van renting is huge industry. Unfortunately, people prefer to do pleasure craft towing always on sunny summer weekends, preferably on 4-th of july.

"You got to admit, it is a nice looking truck."

It's hard for me to see how nice looking this truck is - the shadow from its carbon footprint is sooo thick.

Sorry about the increase in fuel costs, hope it doesn't bother you too much when you're driving your guzzler on land so you can get to pollute our waterways, too.

With both, as with their successor, the Armada, North African Muslim raiders were a constant concern.

An almost exact analogy to putting lipstick on a pig.

If this ugly thing is rated at 13 city on gasoline, what will it return on E85? 10mpg?

I see the GM + Nissan partnership working brilliantly, they seem to be in sync already, however as has been pointed out, this is mostly a CAFE score boosting and marketing / greenwashing effort as compared to the effectiveness of making every vehicle come with a simple engine auto start-stop system.

Oh, GM is launching Saturn Vue Hybrid with simple start-stop system. It costs just 2K more than regular and this is the Hybrid with least extra cost.

Hope it makes it big and others follow.

Max: Most cars are I4s not V4s, in fact apart from some old saabs and lancias there are very few V4s...

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