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Nissan to unveil new fuel cell SUV concept at Paris Motor Show with 3-motor 4x4 powertrain; leveraging LEAF and PIVO

Nissan TeRRA SUV concept. Click to enlarge.

Nissan will unveil the Nissan TeRRA SUV fuel cell electric vehicle concept at the 2012 Paris Motor Show on 27 September. TeRRA, with a 3-motor, 4x4 powertrain, builds on Nissan’s success with what it calls “urban-relevant” SUVs and crossovers such as the Murano and Qashqai.

Powering the front wheels is the electric propulsion system currently featured in the battery-electric Nissan LEAF. In each back wheel, providing all-wheel power as needed, is an in-wheel electric motor, based on the working prototypes featured in three successive PIVO concepts. (Earlier post.)

As no drive shafts are required to power the rear wheels, there is no hump in the cabin floor or on the underbody. This allows for the flat cabin deck and the underside bodypan.

Under the hood is ample space for Nissan’s proprietary hydrogen fuel cell stack: a flat, highly compact unit that features power density of 2.5 kW/L. The latest in a series of Nissan fuel cells since 1996, the stack costs one-sixth of its 2005 progenitor as the need for expensive precious metals has been cut to one-quarter of the previous level.

Interior of the Nissan TeRRA SUV concept. Click to enlarge.

TeRRA’s driver sits front and almost center in a novel diagonal layout that positions rear passengers over the shoulders of those in front, rather than directly behind.

Facing the driver is a novel instrument cluster—an electronic tablet—that serves as an “intelligent key.” The driver docks it when entering the car and removes it when leaving. When docked in TeRRA, the tablet’s default view displays speed and other key performance indicators. But the driver can toggle to entertainment, communications, navigation and other views. Outside the car it provides all the functions expected from a tablet, plus it stays continually in touch with the vehicle. The idea is seamless information and communication, on the road and everywhere else.

Our challenge was to take Nissan’s strength in SUVs and crossovers forward into the zero-emissions era, fuel cells being our new frontier in zero emission mobility. Not big and tough for the desert, the aim was a new approach to SUVs that’s relevant to urban life. The unique diagonal seating layout that offers an exciting driving experience thanks to exceptional visibility that creates a sense of being in control under any conditions.

—,Francois Bancon, Nissan’s division general manager of product strategy and planning



Im mix up. Im on the market for a used fuelcell car in 2022 approx and this vehicle should be too costly as i don't need as big as that and i don't like 4 wheels drive. Even if the fuelcell is 6x less costly this is still too big, i need a compact car with 2 wheels drive. Also nissan is still irresponsable with their customers and haven't say about where and how the hydrogen will be put inside this suv. I said many time to include a small compact water electrolyzer put inside the vehicle to make the hydrogen while we drive or when park and the electrolyzer is plug to a 110 volt outlet. Please follow my instructions immediatly, it's better to have it nice right from the start and i promise that i will be looking for such a vehicle in 2022 used so it have to be sold before. Up to 2022 my actual 2005 gasoline dodge neon should be good enouph and as soon as the hydrogen technology will be on the real market then gasoline price will shrink toward 0$ a gallon as we will only burn the leftover for depollution reasons.


This is a major step for PEMFCs. Higher power density at much lower price could become an affordable future PEMFC vehicle. It may compete with BEVs after all.


Still ...

There are all the problems when dealing with Hydrogen - and - the need to develop a distribution infrastructure.

When thinking about Hydrogen, never forget that it is not an energy source. It can be used as a highly inefficient energy carrier but the energy it transports must be generated by the same old inefficient and expensive means.

I don't see the practical use of Hydrogen in my lifetime.


Another one (lucas) that spread the big oil line against hydrogen fuels for clean and cheap infinitely available fuel for all transportation. It been often experimented in world labs that you can produce any amount of hydrogen almost for free by water electrolisis
without any pollution. Not surprisingly big oil with the help of barack, bush, scientists, websites, wall streets, banks, paid bloggers are trying to make hydrogen look costly . Any fuel outlets can produce hydrogen for cars on site with few costs and sell the fuel at low cost and attract customer to the store where there is some bathrooms services and coffee or other products like newspaper, etc.


This is something new for me but I'm tempted to agree with A D on this one. Where you have water + electricity you have the possibility to make hydrogen. Storing hydrogen in high pressure tanks to quickly serve customers should not be a major challenge.


AD's claims are laughable since most hydrogen production will be by oil companies, from fossil fuels. You might notice the oil company logos on the few hydrogen pumps available.
Basic physics tells you hydrogen and fuel cells for passenger vehicles is a bad idea.


Hydrogen production could be done by just about anybody, though it may not be cheap. Production cost for the energy equivalent of a gallon of gasoline is 50-70 times your electric rate. I have overnight rates of $0.02/kwh, so the equivalent of a gallon of gasoline is $1.00 - $1.40. That is production cost only, not cost of buying and maintaining the equipment or profit. Fuel cells are about twice as efficient as an ICE, to my understanding.

Bob Wallace

" It been often experimented in world labs that you can produce any amount of hydrogen almost for free by water electrolisis without any pollution."

Really? What is your definition of "almost for free"? Are you pricing only the water and not the energy input?

Hydrogen is an energy storage medium. If we want "clean" hydrogen we have to start with electricity from renewable sources. We use that electricity to crack water, then we have to compress, transport, store and distribute the hydrogen. Each of those steps takes more energy/adds costs.

EV batteries are roughly 90% efficient, the transport/distribution system is in place and underused except during peak hours.

Both FCEVs and EVs drive electric motors, so efficiency is the same post storage output. FCEVs might have a small advantage in total vehicle weight, but other than that energy efficiency is the same.

It's an old song I sing, but in order for FCEVs to dominate the market, or even survive as more than a small niche player, they would have to bring the cost of purchase and cost of operation significantly lower than that of EVs.

FCEV price/cost would have to be adequately lower than "$1/gallon" in order to bring the capital into play to build brand new infrastructure.

The only way I can see FCEVs becoming dominate is if EVs never gain adequate range. Since we've got some very promising battery technology in the pipeline, I'm not putting money on FCEVs to win, place or show....


I plan to build my own electrolyser and split Pee instead of H2O by electric current. It's considerably cheaper and takes care of cleaning up liquid waste as well.

Bob Wallace

How many miles per day do you figure your pee?


BW...Where gasoline is already between $5/gal and $8/gal, FCEVs running on $1/gal equivalent would be a real give away?

Many industries are currently paying about or even a bit less than $0.02/Kwh on a 24/7 basis in our (96%%) hydro electric area. Hydrogen production stations could certainly get the same rate and even much less during off peak demand periods.

The 46,000+ mega watt hydro plants could be doubled when required. Another 95,000 mega watt of wind power (from high quality wind) could be added.

The final choice may be between BEVs AND FCEVs or a mix of both technologies. Installing an electricity-hydrogen (or NG while it last) plant every 200 Km or 300 Km on main highways should not be much of a challenge. Good projects for our Oil, Coal, NG, or Electricity Cos with deep pockets? No government hand outs should be required.

Current gasoline taxes could easily be transferred on Hydrogen and Electricity to maintain same revenues. Alternatively, gas taxes could be progressively increased to maintain Hydrogen and Electricity taxes low for the transition period.

Bob Wallace

Yes, FCEVs would be competitive against ICEVs in places like Europe if they could get to market faster than EVs and get their infrastructure in place.

(Don't forget, Europeans generally have lower range requirements than US drivers. And they have excellent public transportation for longer trips. HSR rules.)

First to market with infrastructure and "$1/gallon" is going to get well entrenched and hard to dislodge.

EVs are already on the road and their infrastructure is about 90% (rough guess) in place. FCEVs, IMHO, would have to put on an incredible sprint to the finish. A 'Usain Bolt X 100' type performance.


A mix of both technologies? I don't see that. EVs are likely to dominate and if they do I don't see how there would be enough sales volume to get FCEV prices down and infrastructure in place.

One could argue that company fleets might install hydrogen generators for their own use, but if they can purchase EVs for less money and charge away from the fleet yard, I don't see an advantage.


A typical CONCEPT car.

H2 infrastructure does not yet exist and likely will never.

And as Lucas said; "When thinking about Hydrogen, never forget that it is not an energy source."


'EVs are already on the road and their infrastructure is about 90% (rough guess) in place'

Very rough considering in the US around 50% of cars are kept by the roadside, not in a garage.

And 'never forget that hydrogen is not an energy source'
You think that batteries are?


People don't usually consider batteries to be fuel, while they often have that confusion with hydrogen.

As for cars parked by the roadside, they are also often parked next to electric parking meters and lights. Electricity is often nearby.

Roger Pham

H2 filling stations are being built in many placaes.

Bob Wallace

"'EVs are already on the road and their infrastructure is about 90% (rough guess) in place'

Very rough considering in the US around 50% of cars are kept by the roadside, not in a garage."

About 40% of all Americans do not have "an outlet in reach" and we need more rapid chargers along our major travel routes.

Do you think those missing outlets and chargers are greater than 10% of our total existing generation and distribution systems? I'd actually guess well under 5%.

An exterior outlet is almost certainly less than 5% of a total house electrical infrastructure, much less 5% of our total electricity infrastructure.


"And 'never forget that hydrogen is not an energy source'
You think that batteries are?"

Who suggested that batteries generated electricity? I missed that.

Bob Wallace

It's apparent to most/all that I'm pessimistic about FCEVs and hydrogen being our future. But I'm open to being convinced otherwise.

My pessimism arises from two or three things. 1) Overall system inefficiency of hydrogen, 2) Capital cost of creating hydrogen infrastructure and 3) Cost/lifespan of vehicle fuel cells.

My system inefficiency information might be out of date. I work basically from this 2008 diagram....

Starting with 100kWh of renewable electricity we can go three routes to moving down the road.

a) Use the electricity to crack out hydrogen, compress it and use it in a fuel cell vehicle. Starting with 100kWh we put 23kWh on the road.

b) Same system but liquefy the hydrogen. 19kWh on the road.

c) Electricity straight to EV. 69kWh on the road.

A hydrogen solution would require 3x to 3.6x more electricity be generated. Ignoring infrastructure/vehicle costs, it would cost three times more per mile to drive with hydrogen than with electricity-direct simply because of the energy eaten by the system.

Now, that is 2008 based. Are we demonstrably better at turning electricity into FCEV movement? Real world better at cracking water, transporting or using hydrogen?

Got some facts? Not "This makes a huge improvement (as soon as we solve this one little problem" inputs. Real improvements in the diagram?

Roger Pham

The blog you referred to uses outdated info in the efficiencies of H2 processes. Current electrolyzers can both electrolyze and compress in one step at greater than 75% efficiency. Latest FC is capable of 70% efficiency, not 50% mentioned in the blog.
Let's redo the calculation for

1) H2-FCV: 100kWh grid electricity x .75(electrolyzer) x .7 (FC stack) x .9 (vehicular) = 47.25 kWh remaining to the wheels.
2) BEV: 100kWh x .85 (AC to DC&charging) x .9 (vehicular)= 76.5 kWh.
So we see 76.5 kWh for BEV vs. 47.25 for FCV =1.6 folds, not 3 folds more efficient for BEV.

Now, renewable electricity is not always available, so H2 will be used as a means for seasonal storage of excess renewable energy as well as nuclear energy produced in the summer, fall, and spring, for use in winter.

Let's recalculate the relative efficiencies of FCV vs BEV when 100kWh of H2 will be used to generate electricity for the grid as well as powering FCV:

1) FCV: 100kWh x .7 (FC stack) x .9 (vehicular) x .95 (compression of H2 from pipeline pressures to tank)= 59.85 kWh.

2) BEV: 100 x .6(CCGT generator) x .9 (grid transission) x .85 (Charging and AC to DC) x .9 (vehicular) = 41.31 kWh

So, 59.85 / 41.31 = 1.44 for FCV over BEV. Remember that in the winters, the efficiency of FCV will be a lot higher due to the use of waste heat from the FC stack for cabin heating, in which case, the efficiencies of FC stack can approach 100%. If you re-do the math to take account for this use of waste heat from the FC stack, then you can see that over all, BEV's and FCV's can have comparable efficiencies year round.


They did the beancounting and to build out the entire h2 system will take only 4% of the at pump cost of h2.. yes just 4 cents out of every buck. So no problems there.

As for h2 eff.... all that matters is the end cost of the h2 compared to fossil fuels and so far its cheaper then them per mile driven.

Durability wise the main reason some companies are going ahead early on fuel cell cars is a drastic jump in durability.

Its a mistake on many to assume we have an energy problem.. we dont . We just have a fuel problem. We have all the energy we need to make all the fuel we want we just needed to make the equipment to make that fuel cheaper and last longer so the fuel itself was cheap enough to sell.. we have supposedly done it.


Good points RP.

Another potential advantage of FCEVs is for extended range heavy vehicles. It will take a huge breakthrough in e-storage units to store enough electricity to push a 30+ tons cargo truck 500+ miles. An FCEV heavy truck/bus or locomotive could, in principle, have enough hydrogen on board for 500++ miles and quickly pickup a refill at road side hydrongen stations. Locomotives could generate (on board) some of the hydrogen required

Bob Wallace

Those are actual numbers and not "almost"? Just double checking before I write them down. Too often I see claims and in small print "except for 1.2 ounces of unobtainium"....

OK, 1.4x which means that cost per mile is 1.4x. Plus 100% of infrastructure cost. If EVs get established first then FCEVs aren't going to happen. You don't spend hundreds of billions in order to drive for 1.4x more per mile.

Technology displacement comes from significantly better function and/or price.

Battery heat also heats passenger cabins, so let's ignore that one.


Locomotives run on electricity. The Siberian railroad is almost the length of crossing the US twice, carries an immense amount of freight, and runs on electricity.

My guess is that as we build out high speed electrified rail a lot of our road freight is going to move to late night rail. People are going to prefer to travel during daytime hours and the rails will be largely available for non-passenger traffic.

Rail is a lot cheaper than road, doesn't do whites, and if it is faster then there will be no issue. Truckers will have day jobs between door and siding.

Feeder 18-wheelers running on electricity are likely. The last 100 miles. With higher capacity batteries 200 mile range trucks will be achievable and battery swapping would work fine with trucks as they are limited to specific routes and returning to the siding. Someone has already made a 100 mile electric.

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