Nissan has launched an electric version of its Note supermini, with a range-extending engine.
Dubbed the Note e-POWER, the car has been designed for the Japanese market and will not be coming to the UK, the Note expected to be dropped when the new Micra launches in the spring of 2017.
But the range-extender technology, which combines the electric drivetrain of the LEAF car with a small petrol engine to avoid the need for external charging – is expected to progress into future Nissan models. The combination creates what is described as a Series Hybrid vehicle and Nissan says that the Note e-POWER is the first small car to be so fitted.
The car is always driven by the electric motor – in conventional parallel hybrids such as Toyota’s Prius the engine takes over as soon as speed increases beyond a certain level and when battery power is low. The e-POWER’s engine is not connected to the wheels, present merely to maintain the battery’s charge, and is thus much smaller than the engine in a parallel hybrid.
Nissan says it has solved the issue of installing a series hybrid system in small cars, namely that the electric motor and battery has to be larger. The e-POWER uses a smaller battery than the LEAF but delivers the same driving experience as a full Electric Vehicle, with instant torque for smooth acceleration and almost silent use. Fuel efficiency is comparable to that of conventional hybrid cars.
According to Nissan the e-POWER technology will strengthen the brand’s line-up of electric-powered powertrains, suggesting more vehicles to use the system are on the way.