RAC Cars News


Nissan Note Japanese tech set for UK models

By raccars Published

Nissan Note

Range-extended Nissan Note e-Power tech is likely to make it onto Britain’s roads in the future.

Nissan has announced details about a new e-Power hybrid power train based upon the Nissan Leaf’s electric technology with the addition of a petrol engine. The technology for the Nissan Note will be limited initially to the Japanese market but it is believed that it will be destined ultimately for the European market including the UK.

The company released images indicating that the Note would be its first car to have the technology, including the Leaf’s electric technology and the petrol engine to aid in the charging of the batteries. Sales of the Note in Europe are set to stop, meaning that it will be the Japanese market which will see the technology first. But the e-Power drivetrain is likely to be used in the company’s new Micra and this supermini will be available to buy in Britain and the rest of Europe.

Nissan hybrid technology explained

The new hybrid system from Nissan features wheels driven by electric motors and the petrol engine used solely to charge the car’s batteries. Nissan says the system is small and light, which allows it to be used in the company’s more compact models.

The manufacturer adds that despite it having a smaller battery, the new electric system offers similar operation to the Nissan Leaf in terms of real word performance. It is said that the system can provide the same level of fuel efficiency as ‘leading conventional hybrids’. This indicates that its economy figures should be around 70mpg in order to match the Toyota Prius.

Details on the engine size have not yet been revealed, although the images released by Nissan suggest a front-mounted conventional engine will be used in the Note rather than the type of compact motorcycle engine which was chosen for the range-extended BMW i3.

The e-Power drivetrain is part of Nissan’s commitment to the research and development of alternative fuels. This includes all-electric technology, hybrid systems and Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) vehicles.

A ‘totally different’ drivetrain

Hiroto Saikawa, Co-CEO at Nissan, said that the company’s new system was ‘totally different’ compared with a conventional hybrid. In the latter, the engine drives the wheels and an electric motor draws power from the battery and is an integral part of the power train. This electric motor becomes a generator on braking in order to charge the battery.

In e-Powered cars, however, the combustion engine is not directly connected to the drive train. Instead, it acts as a generator to charge the battery. In turn, the battery drives the electric motor. This design ensures that the combustion engine works at low revs best-suited to fuel economy.

This set-up is actually similar to the technology used in cars such as the Chevrolet Volt but the Nissan system is different because of its size, or rather it's lack of it. The Japanese car maker has managed to shrink its hybrid down to regular engine size and the battery is just a twentieth of the size of the one used in the Nissan Leaf. This means that it can fit underneath the front seats of the Note without compromising rear seat legroom.

When it comes to braking, drivers may take some time to familiarise themselves with the aggressive regenerating action. The Note driver will need to learn to brake using the accelerator and without scaring their passengers and any motorists behind by accidentally making sudden stops. With practice, however, the technology should mean that the disk brakes aren’t used and the car’s economy will show dramatic improvements.

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