Nissan (NSANY) to Offer the Eco-Pedal

One of the big issues right now — even though oil and gas prices are dropping — is fuel efficiency. Many automakers are trying to come up with more creative ways to improve fuel efficiency in cars. In a way, this is a smart move. After all, even if oil prices do make it back down to $100 a barrel by year’s end, one would hope that Americans have learned a very valuable lesson about relying too much on limited resources. Companies that work to embrace technology that will help consumers save money on their transportation costs will be better positioned in the long run.

Nissan (NSANY) to Offer the Eco-Pedal
Photo: hakluyt, Creative Commons, Flickr

But the way some companies are going about this might be a little questionable. Consider the Nissan (NSANY) ECO Pedal. According to the Nissan Web site, here is how it works:

The ECO Pedal system is fed data on the rate of fuel consumption and transmission efficiency during acceleration and cruising, and then calculates the optimum acceleration rate. When the driver exerts excess pressure on the accelerator, the system counteracts with the pedal push-back control mechanism.

At the same time, the eco-driving indicator incorporated on the instrument panel indicates the optimal level for fuel-efficient driving. Driving within the optimal fuel consumption range, the indicator is green. It begins to flash when it detects increased acceleration before reaching the fuel consumption threshold and finally turns amber to advise the driver of their driving behavior.

That’s right. It’s basically an ECO Nagger. While hyper-milers might love this idea (it does remind them when they are in optimum range), most regular drivers are more likely to be annoyed. Any sort of acceleration is probably going to be second-guessed by the ECO Pedal, and a struggle for control could possibly ensue. Nissan does, however, have an on/off switch, allowing the driver to turn off the pedal.

A better idea for Nissan might be to continue focusing on electric cars. The company has said that it is not interested in hybrid cars for the future. While the company will continue to make hybrids, Nissan executives have said that their marketing will likely shift to focus on cars that are exclusively electric, reports Yahoo! Finance:

Hybrids, he said, will soon be so commonplace they will no longer be the conspicuous-consumption status symbols they now seem to be for owners. …

"There may be no point in waving the hybrid flag at this point," Yamashita told The Associated Press, referring to both Toyota’s success and the anticipated proliferation of hybrids. "Hybrids may not be all that special."

An interesting thought. However, the American public is just barely beginning to accept hybrids at the mainstream level. It might be a while before cars that run entirely on something other than gasoline become desirable to the mass market.

Disclosure: I do not own Nissan stock.

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