Nissan is almost ready to expand its EV efforts beyond the single-motor Leaf hatchback.
The automaker is developing a twin-motor powertrain that will be able to deliver precise handling thanks to a new, purely electric all-wheel-drive system called e-4ORCE.
The system is being developed in a Leaf prototype that Nissan unveiled last October, and in a statement Thursday the automaker said the development work is almost complete. The prototype's two motors deliver a combined 300 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque.
Electric cars are known to be fast in a straight line, but Nissan wants its own EVs to deliver balanced performance, where handling and comfort are also prioritized. That's why the automaker is developing e-4ORCE.
Nissan e-4ORCE electric all-wheel-drive system
The system, which works by managing the power delivery and braking individual wheels, is designed to enable a vehicle to follow its driver's intended line on a variety of surfaces, including ice and snow, without the driver having to change his or her driving style or input. The system constantly monitors various inputs, such as a wheel slipping, and reacts in an instant (three times faster than the blink of an eye) so that to the driver the motion of the vehicle feels seamless.
In normal conditions torque is split equally between the front and rear wheels, but when necessary, up to 100% of the torque can be sent to either axle, and then the torque to each wheel can be adjusted via the individual brakes. Regenerative braking can also be used to enhance comfort, for example by dialing up the braking effect at an axle to reduce vehicle pitch and dive.
Nissan Ariya Concept
“We developed this technology to work in the background and not disrupt the driver,” said Ryozo Hiraku, head of Nissan's powertrain and EV engineering division. “We want even first-time drivers to feel comfortable with vehicle reactions as intended in an extremely natural way. Once people get used to a car with e-4ORCE, they may find it surprising to drive a car without it.”
The first application should be a small crossover SUV previewed by 2019's Ariya concept and expected to reach the market in 2021.