YOKOHAMA, Japan — Nissan has deployed its e-Power range-extender hybrid system to a second nameplate, with a beefed-up battery and motor that likely foreshadow a more robust version of the technology planned for the U.S.
The latest e-Power system, introduced last week in the Japan-market Serena family van, churns out more power than the first iteration, which debuted in the subcompact Note hatchback in 2016. The Serena needed the extra oomph because the van is much heavier than the Note, seating two more people than the Note's five.
That same thinking will apply when Nissan adapts the technology to large vehicles for the U.S., a powertrain engineer said.
"Bigger motors will be necessary for Europe and North America for such uses as towing or ascending long slopes," said Ryuzo Noguchi, who worked on the Serena's electrified drivetrain. "U.S. market requirements are for large vehicles, so that is where we expect to apply e-Power."
Nissan's global chief planning officer, Philippe Klein, told Automotive News that e-Power technology will make it to America as an option on high-end vehicles.
Still unclear is when it will arrive and in which brands. But Nissan Motor Co. CEO Hiroto Saikawa said in January that the Infiniti premium brand will begin offering e-Power in the near future.
The fuel-saving e-Power system is similar to that used in the Chevrolet Volt. A 1.2-liter, three-cylinder engine acts as an electricity generator that charges a lithium ion battery. The battery then powers an electric motor, which directly turns the wheels.
Unlike the Volt, however, the Note e-Power cannot be charged with an external plug.