Nissan Makes Range-Anxiety Fun With 'Carwings' For The 2011 Leaf

December 28, 2010
Nissan Leaf Carwings feature

Nissan Leaf Carwings feature

If Farmville has taught us anything -- and sadly, it's taught us plenty -- it's that people will carry out even the most repetitive, mundane chores as long as there's a shiny gold trophy waiting down the line. Now, Nissan has taken that same principle and applied it to a spiffy in-dash system for the 2011 Nissan Leaf.

The system is called "Carwings", and among other things, it allows drivers to compare their driving habits to those of other Leaf owners. Carwings connects every Leaf vehicle to a network, keeping track of data on each car: miles driven, charge remaining, miles per charge, and so on. It's not a full social network, so drivers can't identify or communicate with one another, but it does allow Leaf owners to see how their driving stacks up against their peers.

And there are rewards for good behavior. As you can see from the screencap above, players earn virtual trophies if they drive efficiently enough. (At the moment, there aren't any real-world prizes for great driving, but we could easily see those implemented down the line.) Carwings also has real-time traffic predictions and operator support, making it a competitor to GM's OnStar, Mercedes-Benz's Mbrace, and other telematics systems.

This looks like it could be a big win for Nissan -- or at least another way to draw attention to the 2011 Leaf. Combined with the Leaf's new iPhone app, Carwings opens up a range of interesting possibilities for future telematics and networking systems. Stay tuned.


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