But in what form?
Nissan has confirmed that it will be bringing the unique e-Power sort-of petrol-hybrid powertrain to our market very, very soon, aiming to bridge the gap rather literally between pure internal-combustion vehicles and pure-electric mobility. But before you dismiss this development, give us a moment to explain why the e-Power drivetrain is far more significant than you might first assume.
e-Power is essentially a different take on the typical petrol-electric hybrid powertrain, where instead of the electric motor working in a supportive role behind the combustion motor, it’s the other way around. In e-Power guise, the 1.2-litre engine up front works solely to generate electricity which is then sent to a small 1.5kWh battery pack, which then discharges its… uh, charge, to power the wheels. As a result, the engine runs at a constant, steady speed to make that power, turning itself on and off depending on the power demand and battery level.
There is no connection between the petrol motor and the front wheels, meaning that the driving experience provided by the Note e-Power is broadly similar to the one enjoyed by pure electric vehicles. What makes this car difficult to pigeonhole into a category is that it is not a ‘range-extender EV’ (where primary charge is provided by charging the car via the mains, and supplemented by a small generator motor) nor is it a traditional parallel hybrid that you might be familiar with (like the kind Honda and Toyota will sell you).
Back in November, we published a comment by a Nissan Australia spokesperson that shed a light on how Nissan was weighing up its options. Since then, the offering of e-Power motivated vehicles has been cemented, though it’s still unclear where that drivetrain will debut.
Logic dictates that the first e-Power model will come in the form of the Honda Jazz-rivalling Nissan Note, considering that the Note e-Power was the very first Nissan to debut the unique driveline. However, the relative simplicity of the system, bereft of any form of external charging (plugging-it-in, basically) means that it can easily be scaled up or down depending on market demands. Further, Nissan has vehemently denied considering bringing the Note to our market. Hmm.
Vehicle architecture and space allocation aside, in theory, the e-Power drivetrain could be applied anywhere across the range. That would be in line with Nissan’s comments and ongoing commitments to launch some 14-new models in the near future, capitalising on the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s promise towards electrified propulsion. But, when CarAdvice says they can’t guess what e-Power model will come first, we’re on the same boat, for the time being.