Nissan Motor Indonesia displayed the first model to receive the new e-Power drivetrain, the Note, at the motor show in Jakarta. The car was launched first in Japan last year and the automaker sees potential for it in emerging markets.
The e-Power borrows from the EV technology used in the Leaf but adds a small petrol engine to charge the high output battery when necessary, eliminating the need for an external charger while offering the same high output.
“The e-Power is an innovative solution toward electrification in the emerging market,” said Eiichi Koito, president director of PT Nissan Motor Indonesia. “It uses only a high output battery – never the engine – to drive the car’s wheels. The driver can enjoys the quietness, powerful torque and other performance characteristics of an EV but without having to worry about charging the battery.”
The e-Power system features full electric motor drive, meaning that the wheels are completely driven by the electric motor. The power from a high output battery is delivered to the compact powertrain comprised of a petrol engine, power generator, inverter, and a motor.
In conventional hybrid systems, a low output electric motor is mated to a petrol engine to drive the wheels when the battery is low (or when driving at high speeds). In the e-Power system, the petrol engine is not connected to the wheels; it simply charges the battery. And unlike a full EV, the power source originates from the engine and not just the battery.
This system structure generally requires a bigger motor and battery because the motor is the only direct source to drive wheels. This has made it hard for the automotive industry to mount the system in compact cars.
Nissan has learned how to minimise and reduce weight, develop more responsive motor control methods and optimise energy management. As a result, e-Power uses a smaller battery than the Leaf, but delivers the same driving experience as a full EV.
The e-Power delivers massive torque almost instantly which enhances drive response and results in smooth acceleration.
“The system operates very quietly, much like a full EV. Because e-Power relies on the engine much less frequently, its fuel efficiency is comparable to that of leading conventional hybrids, especially during town commutes”, said Masayuki Ohsugi, general manager R&D Nissan Motor Indonesia.
“During deceleration, the engine stops running and the regenerative power is used to charge the battery until the vehicle comes to a complete stop. It doesn’t waste energy during deceleration.”
The e-Power is able to accelerate, slow down, and stop with one pedal. The vehicle will accelerate when drivers push on the acceleration pedal and decelerate when they release it. In heavy traffic, this technology will greatly reduce the need for the drivers to switch from one pedal to the other, thus reducing driver fatigue. The feature will also be on the new Leaf, due out soon.
Nissan said the Note e-Power had been very well-received in Japan where it launched last November and is now Japan’s best-selling car (based on new-vehicle sales in the first half of 2017), demonstrating the immediate popularity of its innovative electric motor drive system.
“We are committed to developing electric-powered powertrains that cater to the different requirements of the world’s markets. The e-Power is one example of that quest and may be a possible solution for emerging markets like Indonesia,” said Koito.