Nissan Navara, Patrol hybrids possible with new e-Power technology – Drive

New Models

Hybrid technology from Nissan’s new family SUVs could spread to larger models, including the Navara ute and Patrol 4WD – but it remains unclear when, and how it would be introduced.

The ‘e-Power’ petrol-electric hybrid technology in the new Nissan X-Trail and Qashqai family SUVs could be adapted for use in the next Nissan Navara and Patrol – but Nissan executives remain tight-lipped on whether such models are in development.

Coming to Australia in the Nissan Qashqai small and X-Trail mid-size SUVs, the e-Power system uses a petrol engine to power a small battery pack and electric motor, which in turn is used to drive the wheels.

Nissan executives say this technology is “scalable”, and can be used on smaller and larger vehicles in the company’s line-up, sold in different markets.

“For Qashqai and X-Trail as you mentioned, [e-Power] has been developed for the CMF-C platform [used by the SUVs] … But as you’ve mentioned, in Japan, [e-Power is used] on a different platform and in different components. Effectively, the architecture is scalable,” Adam Robertson, a lead engineer for the e-Power program, told Australian media.

When asked if the e-Power system could be scaled to suit a larger model such as a Patrol, Robertson said: “Ultimately, the technology is scalable. e-Power as a concept is scalable. But I mean, obviously we wouldn’t comment on any future plans on any models.

A new Nissan Navara is expected in 2025 – developed alongside the next Mitsubishi Triton – while rumours suggest a new Nissan Patrol is coming after 2023.

However, Robertson said an e-Power system on a larger vehicle would require more engineering than simply swapping in parts from the Qashqai and X-Trail – as the hybrid system in these vehicles has been tailored specifically for their platform.

“All the components on the [Qashqai and X-Trail] – from the variable compression-ratio engine, the battery size, the electric motor size, etc – has been developed for this application, on this powertrain.

“You can put it into a smaller platform but each of the components are designed for that [Qashqai, X-Trail] application.”

What has been effectively ruled out for a Nissan e-Power hybrid model is a diesel engine – at least in Europe, where diesel is being phased out across Nissan’s model range, amid declining demand and stringent emissions rules.

“I think in the moment we are going out of the diesel offer, generally speaking. So means that we will not go [to a diesel hybrid] and we don’t plan to come back. We are constantly now removing our diesel offer from our portfolio,” Ilya Deminov, Nissan Europe product planning executive, told Australian media today.

While diesel is being phased out in Europe, it remains strong in Australia, where all Navara utes sold are powered by the fuel – and more than 90 per cent of commercial vehicles sold are powered by diesel.

“What we’ve said for Europe, and obviously Europe is quite a specific market, is that our current investment in this diesel technology for Europe is basically at an end. We’ve got the ambition that in Europe [we are] moving towards electrified-only powertrains from 2030,” Robertson said.

“We’re well aware that obviously … [in] India, Middle East and Oceania [including Australia and New Zealand], the customer expectations around powertrains vary wildly, and rolling in their different status of being ready for electrification. So it’s [an] incredibly complex subject that our product planning teams have to face.”

The next Nissan Navara – due in 2025, if typical model cycles are to be followed – was more widely expected to adopt a plug-in hybrid system, as it is co-developed with the next Mitsubishi Triton.

Mitsubishi is leading the development of the two utes – and executives have already hinted that the current Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid’s technology can be adapted to work in a ute.

However, Nissan executives have now said e-Power is the company’s “main” electrification technology, rather than a plug-in hybrid – before the switch to fully-electric power at a later date.

“We chose e-Power over the plug-in [hybrid] as the main technology in Nissan. But again, going back to the future plans which we will not comment on … we have e-Power which is the main powertrain in our portfolio to answer all the electrification as the transition technology towards full [electric cars],” Deminov said.

Nissan touts the benefits of the ‘e-4orce’ all-wheel-drive (AWD) system in the new X-Trail e-Power, which drives the rear wheels with an electric motor, rather than a mechanical connection to the front axle.

The company claims e-4orce can react “10,000 times faster” than a traditional AWD system – which presents opportunities for precise control of the power sent to each wheel while off road.

When asked if e-Power and e-4orce could suit hardcore off-roading in a four-wheel-drive, Roberston said: “There’s no reason at all, why not?

“I mean, the torque response for electric motors is instant, you know – one 10,000th of a second is incredibly quick. I liken it back to [that] it’s 10 times faster than the stopwatch used in Formula One. It’s incredibly fast, you’re not gonna get any quicker.

“And it means you’ve got … [a] permanent all-wheel-drive system, so you apply torque wherever you want at any time. Of course that is the pinnacle, and you can use that in other applications as well.

When asked if this would suit a future Navara or Patrol, Robertson said: “I wouldn’t comment on any future plans on any other models. But obviously, this technology offers some very, very strong benefits.”

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines at a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

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