Kez Casey | Nov 3, 2016

Continuing its push for alternative powertrain solutions, Nissan has unveiled its newest e-Power drivetrain combining the electric technology from the Nissan leaf with a small petrol engine.

Unlike a traditional hybrid, which can use either its electric motor, or petrol engine to power the car (or both in tandem) the Nissan e-Power relies solely on the electric motor to power the wheels, carrying the petrol motor as a generator to charge the battery without the need to plug into a wall socket.

Nissan claims its work on optimising energy management has allowed it to install the e-Power system into a compact car for the first time, with the Note small hatch set to become the first production vehicle to be manufactured with the new powertrain.

Ultimately the system works in a similar way to the BMW i3 Rex, which functions as an electric car and carries a motorcycle engine to replenish the battery as charge gets low. However the i3 also includes a wall-charging option for when the vehicle is parked, to minimise use of the petrol engine.

In the case of the e-Power unit, the battery size has been reduced compared to the Leaf, but without a corresponding drop in range thanks to the on-the-go charging provided by the petrol range-extender.

But for the moment Nissan hasn’t officially disclosed any key figures including fuel consumption or driving range, promising only that the e-Power system delivers the acceleration and quietness of an electric vehicle.

Reports suggest that fuel consumption may be as low as 2.7 l/100km based on figures taken from the rather lenient Japanese fuel test cycle, with the petrol-powered engine derived from a version of the 1.2 litre three-cylinder engine used in the Micra, converted for use as a generator.

At this stage Nissan has no plans to offer the e-Power system outside of Japan.

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