If you don’t live in Japan, you’ve probably never heard of Nissan’s new e-Power hybrid system, but you may soon. Since the e-Power hybrid system launched late last year in the Nissan Note, aka Versa Note, sales have taken off, which means that Nissan may offer it globally.
The Nissan Note e-Power is challenging the Prius in Japan.
Sales of the Note e-Power have been such a success in Japan, that it even beat out the Toyota Prius in January, one of the best-selling cars in Japan. Since it’s so successful in Japan, Nissan is reportedly looking at options to sell it in other markets outside Japan.
“It is a technology that clearly can fit outside Japan in all the key markets,” stated Daniele Schillaci, Nissan’s executive vice president in charge of global marketing and sales. “We are thinking about moving forward faster on electrification, not only in pure EVs, but also in this e-Power technology.”
At this point the launch of a hybrid powertrain isn’t too ground breaking, but Nissan’s system is different. It’s an extended-range hybrid system, which is similar to the Chevy Volt, but with one big difference – you never plug it in. The Note e-Power is powered by a 1.2L three-cylinder engine that serves as a generator for the lithium-ion battery, which powers the electric motor. The three-cylinder engine never directly powers the wheels.
Since the system can’t be plugged in, the e-Power system continually adjusts itself to generate enough electricity. On Japan’s fuel economy scale the Note e-Power is rated at 32.7 kilometers per liter (77 mpg), which isn’t far off from Prius Prime plug-in hybrid’s 87.5 mpg and the regular Prius at 96 mpg.
The move to expand the availability of its e-Power hybrid system would also give Nissan another option in the electrified segment, since in the U.S. Nissan hasn’t really had that much success with traditional hybrids. We did at one point have the Altima hybrid and then the failed Pathfinder hybrid. Now Nissan’s sole hybrid is the recently launched Rogue Hybrid, but if you want a hybrid sedan or hatchback in the US, you aren’t going to a Nissan showroom.