Nissan e-Power hybrids for the US will aim for performance, not just mpg

Nissan Note e-Power hybrid

Considering how much of a commitment Nissan has made to electric vehicles over nearly a decade—mass-producing them on three continents—the lack of any parallel commitment to plug-in hybrid models, or even hybrids, has been baffling.

Nissan finally remedied that in 2016, with the introduction of its e-Power hybrid system, on the Japan-spec Nissan Note. At that time it was claimed to be the first series hybrid system in a mass-produced compact car.

Nissan then said that e-Power, which harnesses some know-how from the Leaf, promised to offer the driving characteristics of a fully electric vehicle, and that it was quieter than other hybrid configurations in comparable vehicles.

DON’T MISS: Nissan Gripz Concept uses Note e-Power series-hybrid system

Just after the launch of e-Power, Nissan had said that it was studying the technology for use in the U.S., with a stronger motor/generator and different tuning to suit the higher-speed higher-demand situations that American drivers encounter, versus Japan. Many years ago Honda considered a similar series-hybrid layout and after examining those driving differences, opted instead for its series/parallel two-motor hybrid system that—as with GM’s Voltec, clutches the internal combustion mechanically into the system.

Nissan Note e-Power hybrid

Still studying—but Japan, China, and Europe are the priority

That appears to be where Nissan remains today—still studying the technology, still not committed to it for the U.S. on any large scale, and not arriving soon, according to Ivan Espinosa, Nissan’s corporate VP for global product strategy and product planning. When it arrives—or if it does—it may be presented as more of a performance system, he says.

Part of the issue in why the U.S. is waiting longer for the system, Espinosa says, comes down to demand. Japan, China, and Europe are going to be the prime markets for e-Power for now because of regulatory concerns and environmental awareness.

CHECK OUT: Nissan e-Power series hybrid builds on electric-car expertise

Globally, Nissan is taking a patchwork approach with its powertrains. As Espinosa underscores, some markets will remain somewhat dependent on internal combustion, while others will prioritize e-Power and others will push harder on EVs. “For Nissan, the priority is battery electric vehicles, combined with our e-Power technology, which has been very successful in the markets in which it has launched.”

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