Nissan hopes ‘camelpower’ can become new global standard
Prospective car buyers will get their chance to see the newest and most cutting-edge vehicles being produced when auto shows roll through several major Canadian cities in the coming weeks.
Many manufacturers reveal concept vehicles at the shows, like Nissan’s Rogue Warrior, a snowmobile-SUV hybrid designed and unveiled in Montreal last year, which was marketed as being able to tackle Canada’s winter conditions.
But the Japanese automaker is taking that idea of designing vehicles for specific landscapes and climates one step further.
“Desert Camel Power”
Horsepower is a unit of measure that is as widely accepted as Einstein’s matter theory, the speed of sound, and pi.
But now horsepower – used to determine the power of a vehicle’s engine – is being thrown into question due to Nissan’s creation of “Desert Camel Power.”
Introduced earlier this month by Nissan’s Middle East division, camelpower aims to provide car buyers in the region a better understanding of how new vehicles perform in the desert.
Nissan says it was about time a new metric was introduced to provide “an at-a-glance indication of a vehicle’s desert fitness.”
CP (Desert Camel Power) = velocity x weight x sin (trajectory)
“In some ways, it is perhaps surprising that such a formula has not been developed before now, given the amount of time and energy the off-road community puts into making claims and counter-claims about what constitutes a good desert vehicle,” a statement from Samir Cherfan, managing director of Nissan Middle East says.
According to Chefran, it can’t be assumed a vehicle with elevated horsepower can conquer the dunes of the Gulf countries any better than a vehicle with lesser power.
“The arguments have raged for decades among off-road enthusiasts about which vehicle is the most capable in the desert and what makes it so,” he says.
Naturally, the model of the vehicle, tires, parts, and the driver’s skills contribute to a vehicles effectiveness on sand.
But could Desert Camel Power just be a savvy marketing tool to help Nissan catch up to Toyota, the market leaders in the Middle East?
“We are a strong number two,” Yolande Pineda, director of Corporate Communications for Nissan Middle East admits. “It’s a strong market for SUVs because of the terrain … SUVs are a big share of our market.”
But Pineda says the development of Desert Camel Power is an earnest attempt to provide a better product for customers.
“When we started bringing cars into this part of the world we had to develop the capability to have cars that go into the desert,” she says. “We will continue to make sure our cars are developed in a way to perform best in the desert.”
WATCH: Nissan researchers explain the science behind “Desert Camel Power”
Nissan has spent two years and more than 15,000 hours in the deserts of the United Arab Emirates testing their own SUVs alongside competitor models.
400 horsepower / 213 camelpower
1 horsepower unit= 745 watts / 1 camelpower unit = 765 watts
Nissan has so far only released results of its own Patrol model SUV, marketed as the Armada in North America.
“I think it would have been very arrogant coming out and comparing our cars with the other ones at this stage of the development,” Pineda suggests. “We hope that our cars will have good results and hopefully better results than the competition.”
Why the name “Desert Camel Power?”
Critics of Nissan’s new formula will question its legitimacy and accuracy, while others will undoubtedly scoff at the name given to it.
“This connection to the region and tapping into the heritage of the region was very welcomed,” says Pineda. “The local population has their roots to the Bedouin in the desert.”
Nissan said the idea to test its theory was not mean to disrespect horsepower, but to celebrate a symbol of the region.
“What is the animal that performs the best in the desert?” asks Pineda. “It’s definitely the camel… it’s the animal that survives the best with resistance and endurance in these quite harsh environments.”
“If anything it’s praising the capability of the camel in the desert,” she says.
What’s the next step for camelpower?
Nissan says its primary focus is to “give back” to the region and go one-step further by making Desert Camel Power an official measurement.
“If it becomes a unit of measure, anybody in the industry will be able to use it,” says Pineda, adding “there are a lot of places in the world that have deserts.”
“Australia could be interested … Africa has a lot of deserts.”
Nissan continues to test their formula, but has presented its early findings to ESMA (Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology) in an effort to standardize Desert Camel Power.
And if it does become an industry measure?
“We will be ready for the comparison with our competitors,” Pineda says.
Nissan says Desert Camel Power will in future be used in all Nissan Middle East showrooms to define the desert capabilities of Nissan’s SUV line-up.
Asked if Nissan was working on any similar formulas for other geographic regions, like winter markets that combat snow, Nissan said that there was no “similar formula in the works for Canada.”
Automobile expert Bill Gardiner, and host of Motoring TV, isn’t necessarily sold on the merits of Nissan’s latest creation.
“I don’t know why [Nissan] would want to re-invent the wheel in regards to horsepower,” he says.
Gardiner believes there are industry-proven ways a vehicle can be modified to boost its performance on- and off-road and points to changes Ford made to its F-150 series of pick-up truck two years ago.
As North America’s best-selling vehicle, all F-150’s now have aluminium bodies, which shaved up to 700 pounds off the vehicle, improving its “power to weight ratio” without losing horsepower.
“Ford absolutely turned the industry on its ear with that move,” Gardiner says.
Gardiner also added the change was significant for Canadian buyers, as the aluminum bodies were marketed as rust proof – an important factor for automobiles facing Canadian winters.
As for camelpower, Pineda says speculation around the concept won’t slow down Nissan’s focus on pushing the boundaries of the industry.
“We live with competition every day,” she says. “Competition should be something that stimulates you, not something that stops you.”
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