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e-POWER: Nissan’s unique electrified powertrain

Nissan’s bold and innovative e-POWER powertrain will be introduced to the Qashqai range in late summer, again breaking the mould in the crossover segment that the Qashqai pioneered.

The new Qashqai will be the first model in Europe to be equipped with Nissan’s unique e‑POWER drive system. Exclusive to Nissan and a key component in the company’s Intelligent Mobility strategy, the e-POWER system is a unique approach to electrification by making every day driving both enjoyable and efficient.

The introduction of the innovative e-POWER system to the new Qashqai brings more of Nissan’s pioneering spirit to the crossover segment. Customers will love the feeling of driving an EV but without consideration for charging. And e-POWER represents a significant milestone in Nissan’s electrification strategy,” said Guillaume Cartier, Chairperson for Nissan’s AMIEO region.

Why e-POWER?
Nissan’s research has shown that European crossover consumers spend more than 70% of their time driving in urban and suburban environments. The research also shows that consumers feel obliged to compromise on driving pleasure in order to be eco-minded in their choice of vehicle.

To respond to that trend, Nissan developed the e-Power system, specifically tuned for European consumer needs. It offers optimum fuel efficiency without compromising driving pleasure thanks to the combination of two Nissan specialisms: advanced battery and motor technology, plus the innovative variable compression ratio internal combustion engine.

As such e-Power is an ideal technology for those who cannot or do not want to take time to recharge with a cable but face a daily urban or suburban drive, and who are ready to make the first move in their transition to a full EV in the future.

100% electrically driven wheels
The e-POWER system is comprised of a high-output battery that is complemented by a variable compression ratio 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo-charged petrol engine generating 156hp, a power generator, inverter and 140kW electric motor of similar size and power output as found in Nissan’s electric vehicles. The petrol engine generates electricity, which can be transmitted via the inverter to the battery pack, the electric motor or both, according to the driving scenario. 

What sets this powertrain apart is that the electric motor is the sole source of power for the wheels, so its response is instant and linear. This represents an appealing alternative to traditional hybrids where drivers have to accept the inherent shortcomings to the driving experience.

In contrast, the new Qashqai’s e-POWER system was conceived to deliver the pleasurable, effortless and smooth driving experience associated with a pure EV, but without the need to recharge.

Best-selling powertrain technology
The e-POWER system was first introduced in Japan in 2017 on the Note compact family car and it went on to become Japan’s number one best-selling car in 2018.

To meet the demands of European consumers and their typically urban or suburban daily drive, the e-POWER installation has been significantly upgraded for the new Qashqai. Where the application in the Note is a three cylinder 1.2 petrol engine (80hp), charging the battery unit, and a final power output of 95kW (127hp). For Europe it has been upgraded to a three-cylinder 1.5-litre turbocharged variable compression petrol engine (156hp), which translates to a total final power output of 140kW (188hp).

The advantage of the e-POWER system is that the engine runs within its optimal range and best compression ratio, leading to superior fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions compared with a traditional internal combustion motor, as well as a refined drive thanks to reduced engine noise. And the additional advantage is the minimal impact e-POWER will have on urban air quality.

Thanks to the pure electric motor drive, there’s no delay in the delivery of torque as can be the case in a traditional hybrid, where there can be a sudden rise in engine speed as it responds to the accelerator demand for immediate acceleration. The instant response of the e-POWER system delivers a unique and exciting driving experience in all driving conditions

To maximise performance, in high acceleration or high speed situations, the energy management control unit within the e-POWER system can send the power generated by the 1.5-litre engine directly to the electric motor, via the inverter, to bolster the electricity supply which is coming from the battery.

Under deceleration and braking, the kinetic energy is recaptured and channelled back to the battery to optimise efficiency.

We know that potential customers for Qashqai e-POWER will spend nearly three-quarters of their time driving in urban and suburban environments. Consequently, we’ve developed the e-POWER system to run as efficiently, effectively and discreetly as possible in those circumstances. But there is no compromise to the driving performance. Acceleration is instant, thanks to the pure electric drive to the wheels, and there is no gearbox to interrupt the power delivery,” said David Moss, Senior Vice President, Region Research & Development, Nissan Technical Centre Europe

Variable compression ratio technology
At the heart of Nissan’s unique e-POWER system is a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo-charged variable compression 156hp petrol engine which has been developed specifically for this application. First used by Nissan’s premium brand Infiniti, the engine’s variable compression capability is a unique feature in an internal combustion engine and allows it to adjust compression ratio, giving both optimum performance and economy depending on the engine load. Ahead of its first introduction in 2018 with Infiniti, it was listed as being among the world’s 10 best engines by Ward’s, a US-based automotive consultancy.

The variation in compression ratio ranges between 8:1 and 14:1. This is achieved by the movement of an actuator which changes the length of the piston stroke according to the demand for power.

During low power demand scenarios – such as constant speed with a good state of charge in the battery – the compression ratio will be at the higher range which optimises consumption and emissions. Under high demand for power, to charge the battery or supply power directly to the motor, a lower compression ratio will be activated which will maximise the engine’s power output. The transition between differing compression ratios is seamless, with no input required from the driver.

The e-POWER system in the Qashqai is a unique Nissan technology which puts efficiency and driving pleasure at the forefront of the driving experience. In developing this system for Europe, we were committed to ensuring that the driving experience should not be compromised for drivers of Qashqai e-POWER.  This technology offers the best of both worlds and represents the best of Nissan – bold, pioneering and innovative – while putting the driver first,” added David Moss. 

Linear tune
Key to the development of the e-POWER system for the Qashqai was the need to ensure the driving experience gave a “connected” sensation, where the petrol engine speed remains relative to the Qashqai’s road speed. Engineers at Nissan Technical Centre Europe (NTCE) in the UK and Spain collaborated in developing a system called “Linear Tune”. This feature governs the petrol engine and progressively increases the speed of the 1.5-litre engine to meet the motor’s energy demands as the car accelerates, ensuring there is no “disconnect” between what the occupants experience in terms of performance and sound. The disparity between engine speed and road speed is a phenomenon that drivers and passengers find unsettling. For example, a sudden rise in engine revs without a commensurate increase in speed is perceived as frustrating and “disconnected” by occupants. Linear Tune on e-POWER is the antidote to that.

e-Pedal StepSimilar to the LEAF, the new Qashqai e-POWER benefits from an entirely new ‘one pedal’ driving experience called e-Pedal Step. Designed to take the repetitive strain out of stop-start urban driving, where the driver is frequently moving their foot between the accelerator and brake, e-Pedal Step allows drivers to accelerate and brake using just the accelerator.

The system must first be activated by the switch on the centre console and once engaged, the accelerator will deliver acceleration as usual. Upon release of the accelerator, e-Pedal Step will brake the Qashqai at 0.2g, enough to illuminate the brake lights, and reduce the speed down to a “creeping” speed, not a complete stop. This ensures low-speed parking manoeuvres are as smooth as possible. Drivers will quickly adapt their accelerator pedal inputs to maintain smooth progress, ensuring urban driving is more intuitive and less demanding.

An electrified range
The arrival of the e-POWER version to the Qashqai range expands the options for potential customers. The existing 1.3-litre mild hybrid engine option is available in two power outputs: 138hp (103kW) and 156hp (116kW) offering energetic performance, with frugal consumption and low emissions.

The third generation of Nissan’s Qashqai crossover remains true to the original formula – striking design, elevated life-on-board ambience with intuitive technology and efficient but rewarding driving dynamics.