Nissan Considers Bringing Its Unusual E-Power Technology to America

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
nissan considers bringing its unusual e power technology to america

The success of Nissan’s e-Power system in the Japanese-market Note hatchback has company brass considering a trans-Pacific trip for the technology.

Should it arrive stateside, e-Power stands to give Nissan an edge in low-priced electrification — potentially undercutting the price of compact hybrid rivals by thousands. Unlike conventional hybrids and plug-in models, Nissan’s system burns gasoline every moment of the drive, despite an electric motor doing all the pulling work.

The novel approach is similar to the Chevrolet Volt’s powertrain, minus the larger battery and plug-in capability. There’s no option of all-electric driving with this system. Instead, a 1.2-liter three-cylinder turns at an optimized 2,500 rpm to generate electricity for the electric motor, feeding a steady slow of it into a compact battery located under the front seats.

Shrinking the battery means lower production costs and a friendlier MSRP. In Japan, a Note (Versa Note in the U.S.) with e-Power retails for about $19,000.

“It is a technology that clearly can fit outside Japan in all the key markets,” Daniele Schillaci, Nissan’s executive vice president of global marketing and sales, told Automotive News at last month’s Shanghai auto show. “We are thinking about moving forward faster on electrification, not only in pure EVs, but also in this e-Power technology.”

The technology first went on sale in Japan last November. Already, the Note e-Power has overtaken the Toyota Prius in sales, providing motivation for the automaker to seek out new markets. While a U.S. introduction isn’t a sure bet, Nissan surely sees it as fertile ground. Not only would the unconventional hybrid battle the Prius, it also has the new Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid to contend with.

“When a technology is successful, it is natural for us to seek something a bit wider,” said Schillaci.

The Note e-Power doesn’t quite reach the lofty fuel economy figures of rival hybrids, though it does offer greatly improved mileage at a lower starting price. Considering the Versa’s U.S. sales remain in the six-figure range, fielding a less-expensive hybrid version with punchier power delivery — Nissan rates the Note e-Power at 187 lb-ft of torque — could prove worthwhile.

[Images: Nissan]

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  • Shaker Shaker on May 15, 2017

    A 1.2 3-cylinder engine running constantly at 2500 RPM is probably going to produce around 40 HP (max, probably less). It will NOT be a quiet companion. The only advantage is that it will warm up and stay at a steady temperature.

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    • Shaker Shaker on May 15, 2017

      @bumpy ii In stop-and-go traffic, it would be an annoyance. My Volt has an 80 HP 1.4l that makes quite the racket on a depleted battery, flooring it while going up a steep hill - (probably hitting 4000RPM). Maybe if I ever break the engine in, it will smooth out a bit (I have the equivalent of 500 miles on it out of 5200 driven miles).

  • Sceptic Sceptic on May 15, 2017

    Prius is a technological marvel beautifully executed by Toyota. Reliable, fairly economical with high bling factor. But from the practical point of view Prius' hybrid drive is too complex and expensive. This system from Nissan is everyman's "hybrid". Expect these to sell for about $16000 in the US. This will be successful.

    • Kokomokid Kokomokid on Aug 30, 2017

      The Prius power train is very simple, mechanically, with a planetary gear set and some gear reduction, but no clutches, or friction elements of any kind. The electronics are fairly complex, but electronics have gotten cheap enough to be almost a non-issue. The Note E-Power would not sell for $16,000 if sold in the U.S. The cheapest regular Versa Note is $16,365 with "destination charge." That car has a CVT and A/C, but crank windows, and probably no cruise control. Anyway, I really hope they sell the E-Power Note in the U.S., so we can find out what gas mileage it actually gets, like in CR's test at a steady 65 mph.

  • MrIcky I would like to compare the answers here against the answers in the recent civil forfeiture article- but I won't because research is hard. It's true though that currently a ticket has no punitive value on those with means and maybe an outsized punitive value on those without. That's not communism, that's just the way it is. Speeding tickets are too arbitrary anyway though: officer discretion, speed trap towns, excessively low speed zones in areas to increase ticket revenue instead of safety, etc. I could clearly see a case where expensive cars are selectively enforced over cheap cars because you only have so much time in a day to up the revenue. It's a gray rainy crap morning and I'm sure the government will do it wrong.
  • 28-Cars-Later Feels a bit high but then again... forget it Jake, its Clown World.In 2021 someone in Sewickley had an MY01 soft top in a manual with 54K otc which I am fairly certain was a 996 and not a Boxster - $20K. I already had my C70 at the shop being reborn and could have done the $20K but it would have been tight and just didn't make sense. Still...
  • SCE to AUX Q: Should Speeding Fines Be Based on Income?A: Yes. Rich people (the guy with $1 more than you) should pay less, because giving his income to the government means he has to lay off a worker at his business.Laws are for poor people./s
  • SCE to AUX "Volvo has suggested it’s capable of yielding 275 miles of range"Every non-US car's range estimate is based on WLTP - worth mentioning.EPA range never 'backs up' WLTP; it's always about 15% lower - so figure maybe 234 miles. Not great, except as a commuter.As for the interior - it's obviously a Model 3 clone, but the screen is substantially smaller. Incidentally, I suspect Tesla made the Model 3/Y interior so minimalist to save money - not just to be different. When you're trying to become profitable on EVs, every dollar counts.
  • SCE to AUX "there haven’t been a lot of good examples hitting the market recently. Most models are aimed at the affluent, resulting in 9,000-pound behemoths with six-figure price tags"I hope you were joking, because that is blatantly false.