The e-Power system adds a gas generator to the batteries, eliminating range anxiety.
Nissan already produces the single best-selling electric car ever built in the Leaf, over 250,000 of which have been sold since it was first launched in 2010. Though great strides have been made improving the Leaf’s range, it is the biggest limiting factor that stops car buyers making the switch to electric power. But Nissan has come up with a solution to the problem in its new e-Power hybrid system.
The e-Power system is a range-extender, essentially the same as that employed in the BMW i3 and Chevrolet Volt. It features a small capacity gasoline engine that acts as a generator when the batteries run down to a low level of charge.
According to Nissan, the system has traditionally been too bulky to fit into a compact car, but the automaker claims to have “cracked the code” in minimizing weight, while developing more responsive motor controls, and optimized energy management. As a result, the e-Power system uses a smaller battery than the Leaf, but delivers the same kind of driving experience.
e-Power is said to be as fuel efficient as leading hybrids like the Toyota Prius. And, of course, it does not come with the range anxiety of a pure electric vehicle. However, range extenders often have a very small gas tank that means they are not necessarily suitable for long-distance work, as is the case with the i3.
Nissan reckons the e-Power system is just about as quiet as a conventional electric car, as well.
The Nissan Note city car - known as Versa Note in the United States - is the first car to be made available with the e-Power drivetrain, making it the first sequential hybrid car in the B segment, says Nissan.
Which markets the Note e-Power will be available in, and how much it will cost, has not yet been revealed.