On the sidelines of Tokyo Motor Show, Japanese auto major Nissan on Wednesday told PTI that it has started testing its e-Power technology-equipped vehicle in India as part of the strategy to enhance electric mobility in Asia. “We are conducting some tests in India for the e-Power…India and Indonesia are two big countries where we are doing the tests while some are also being done in Thailand,” Daniele Schillaci, Nissan Motor Co-Executive Vice-President-Global Sales and Marketing, said.
The e-Power technology
In November 2016, the company introduced its new drive system called e-POWER to customers. It was the first time that e-POWER technology was made available for consumers, marking a significant milestone in the electrification strategy under Nissan Intelligent Mobility.
Nissan’s e-Power technology uses electric motor to power the vehicle, but at the same time, it has a small gasoline engine to charge the battery, as and when required, thus doing away with the need for an external charger.
How does it work?
e-POWER borrows from the EV technology perfected in the Nissan LEAF, the best-selling pure electric car in history, with more than 250,000 units sold. What makes e-POWER technology unique is that unlike the LEAF, it adds a small gasoline engine to charge the high-output battery when necessary, eliminating the need for an external charger while offering the same high-output. It simply means that the wheels are driven by the full electric-motor drive and the power generated from a high-output battery is delivered to the e-Power’s compact powertrain comprised of a petrol engine, power generator, inverter, and a motor. Unlike conventional hybrid systems, in the e-Power system the petrol engine is not connected to the wheels, in fact it simply charges the battery and unlike a full EV, the power source originates from the engine and not just the battery. It is thus not a conventional hybrid system and not even a full EV; it somewhere lies between the two and serves as a perfect combination of both the systems. This kind of system structure somehow requires a bigger motor and battery because the motor is generally the only direct source to drive wheels. However, Nissan has come up with a solution to minimise and reduce weight, and to develop more responsive motor control methods and optimise energy management.
The Benefits of e-POWER
Since e-POWER delivers massive torque almost instantly, it subsequently enhances drive response and results in smooth acceleration. Also, the system operates very quietly, much like a full EV. Also, e-POWER relies on the engine much less frequently, its fuel efficiency is thus comparable to that of leading conventional hybrids, especially during around-the-town commutes. The e-POWER system provides the same driving experience as of a full EV while delivering all the major benefits of the EV.
‘Nissan Intelligent Mobility’ and the future of electric mobility in India
Since last year, Nissan has been actively pursuing a zero-emission, zero-fatality world for driving through its EV program and autonomous drive technology. In order to achieve this aim, Nissan has been committed to developing “Nissan Intelligent Mobility,” which anchors critical company decisions around how cars are powered, how cars are driven, and how cars integrate into society, all while staying focused on creating more enjoyable driving experiences. The company calls e-POWER another step towards achieving its zero-emission vision through a new and more efficient electric powertrain.
Asked about details of the testing of e-Power technology-equipped vehicle in India, Schillaci further told PTI that the company has started it only “very recently” and could not disclose further information, saying local engineers are working to understand the technology, its applicability and drivability in local conditions. Being a part of a working group in partnership with the Indian government, the company is now all set to enter into Indian market for electric vehicles with its intelligent mobility strategy. On co-operation with the Indian government, he said Nissan was part of the working group on electrification strategy. “We can share a lot of our experience from other countries in this field,” he added.
On how electric mobility could happen on a large scale in India, Schillaci said: “I think it’ll come from mid-sized vehicles in the Indian market and not from the high-end vehicles.” On the company’s future product plans for India, he said Nissan’s intelligent mobility strategy is very relevant for the market there, as reported by PTI. “Future line-up of both Nissan and Datsun brands of vehicles in India will be in that direction,” Schillaci said. He further said the company is keeping its target of garnering 5 per cent market share in India when the market is expected to hit around five million units annually by 2020.
Moreover, according to media reports, Japanese carmaker Nissan is studying the possibility of introducing the Note e-Power in India, which is the second bestselling vehicle in Japan in the first half of 2017. The carmaker feels that this electrically driven hatchback, which is charged by a small 1,198cc petrol engine (range extender) rather than a fixed charging socket, will be better suited for the Indian buyer. “The e-Power technology will be very convenient for the Indian customer. We have a request from our team in India to study the e-Power technology for the country,” Daniele Schillaci, executive vice president, Global Marketing and Sales, Nissan Motor Co said addressing the media at the company’s headquarters in Yokohama.
Launched in Japan last year, the Note e-Power is the automaker’s first range-extended electric vehicle. It can run on petrol like a normal petrol-powered or hybrid car, without having to charge the battery from a charging station, thus making it suitable for countries like India where the electric vehicle charging network is weak.
The Indian government’s push for widespread adoption of electric vehicles in the country, and target to sell only electric vehicles after 2030 and Nissan’s experience in bringing electric vehicles to the emerging markets show major growth prospects in the future.
“The Indian government has made a big statement that from 2030 it wants to sell only electric vehicles. While 10 years looks far away, in the industry 10 years is just a long term. We would like to share our experience with the local authorities not only in terms of products but also infrastructure,” said Schillaci, as reported by Autocar India.