Fly a little higher, Carwings. Nissan has been using the communication system as a way for drivers of the battery-electric Leaf to do things like use a smartphone start the charging process remotely, check the charging status or find nearby charging stations. The service was one of the tools Nissan was offering to newbie drivers of the first US mass-produced electric vehicle to better familiarize themselves with ideas like recharging your car from miles away.
Now, three-plus years into the model's lifetime, Nissan is looking to get more out of Carwings, Wards Auto says, citing Nissan North America executive Robyn Williams. Specifically, Nissan is hoping Carwings will eventually be able to communicate information about the battery's health, or lack thereof (i.e. degradation) to the driver. That issue was made clear a couple of years ago when Leaf drivers in hot-weather locales such as Arizona said their batteries were losing capacity at a faster rate than advertised. Nissan North America spokesman Brian Brockman, in an e-mail to AutoblogGreen, would only say that the automaker "is always working to determine ways to offer more value to customers via telematics systems like Carwings," but declined to be more specific about any particular technological advancements.
Nissan debuted Carwings in late 2010, and, among other things, the concept was novel because it let Leaf drivers compare driving efficiency with other Leaf drivers (think of it as a real silent hypermiling contest). The feature had been used as a telecommunications system on a number of Nissan models in Japan for years before being introduced on the Leaf.