Nissan is one of the biggest proponents of electric cars but even it concedes that not everyone is ready to make the switch. That’s why the automaker is introducing series hybrid powertrains to bridge the gap between internal combustion cars and electrics.
Nissan is using the name e-Power for its series hybrid powertrains and the first model to feature the setup is the Note e-Power. It features a battery-electric powertrain similar to the one in the Nissan Leaf but augments this with a small gasoline engine whose sole job is to generate electricity to top up the battery.
But the Note e-Power isn’t a plug-in like other series hybrids such as the Chevrolet Volt or BMW i3 REx. This has allowed Nissan to install a smaller battery, making the system viable in even subcompacts like the Note.
The battery gets its charge from the gasoline engine as well as brake energy regeneration. The benefit is that you get the electric car driving feel, with high torque and smooth operation. Fuel economy, meanwhile, is said to be comparable to parallel hybrids like the Toyota Prius.
In the Note e-Power, the electric motor is mounted under the hood and powers the front wheels. Also mounted under the hood is the gasoline engine, in this case a 1.2-liter inline-3. Nissan is yet to release details on the battery though we know it’s a lithium-ion unit smaller than the battery in the Leaf.