Nissan Qashqai e-Power
Electric for beginners
Along with the arrival of "e-Power" technology, the Qashqai is undergoing a minor facelift. For this version, the exterior has been slightly modified. For instance, the Qashqai e-Power has a closed grille to improve its streamline. Only under the front bumper can one still finds a real air intake.
Space and equipment
"e-Power" gives the Qashqai semi-electric drive. This requires a battery that is much smaller than for full electric drive, but still large enough to take something away from the boot space. Passenger space remains unchanged.
With the arrival of "e-Power", the Qashqai gets a new audio, communication and navigation system. Its operation is even more similar to that of a mobile phone, and from now on the Qashqai also has a virtual assistant. Depending on the command given, this is a smart assistant from Nissan itself, or the command is relayed to Amazon's Alexa (e.g. to control devices at home).
e-Power in theory
The idea behind traditional hybrid drive is that an internal combustion engine is efficient only at high (+/- 90 km/h) and constant speeds. An electric motor is better at low and varying speeds. In hybrid drive, both are combined. Quite simply put, the electric motor provides propulsion in the city and the petrol engine takes over on the motorway.
The concept behind "e-Power" is different! In "e-Power", a petrol engine runs continuously at its most efficient speed. This is regardless of the car's speed, as the power of the combustion engine is only used to drive an alternator. The electricity generated by this goes to a battery. With the power from that battery, an electric motor drives the wheels.
Using a battery as an intermediate station allows room for another innovation. The so-called "compression" of the engine can be varied without the driver experiencing a sudden increase or decrease in power. This makes the combustion engine run even more efficiently. Therefore, according to Nissan, "e-Power" is 10 to 15 per cent more fuel-efficient than the hitherto more common parallel hybrid (also known as "full hybrid" in marketing terms).
e-Power in practice
Because the e-Power is always powered by an electric motor, this Qashqai moves smoothly, quietly and effortlessly like an all-electric car.
When an internal combustion engine is not directly coupled to the wheels, the revs do not vary with the speed of the car and this gives an unnatural feeling. Nissan counters this as much as possible with clever engine management, anti-noise and lots of sound insulation. The result: the Qashqai e-Power is so quiet that at low speed the air conditioning produces more noise than the powertrain! Only at higher speeds is the combustion engine clearly present, but the noise level is no higher than in a standard Qashqai.
A key advantage of electric driving is the ability to drive with one pedal. As with an electric car, one can choose to decrease speed when the accelerator is released. The more abruptly the accelerator is released, the more strongly the car decellerates (and recovers energy). In addition, the Qashqai e-Power offers a normal, sporty and extra-frugal mode and the difference between these modes is clearly noticeable. Those who don't need all these settings can simply put the automatic in "drive" and leave all the thinking to the computer.
The Qashqai e-Power manages to combine the comfort of electric driving with a petrol engine. However, consumption is unfortunately hardly lower than that of a traditional hybrid or even a modern petrol engine without electric assistance. On paper, the Qashqai e-Power consumes 5.3 litres per 100 km, which is simply too much. Moreover, in practice, this consumption could only be achieved at very low speeds and under ideal weather conditions. According to Nissan, a conscious decision was made to prioritise driving pleasure over low fuel consumption, but in doing so, the manufacturer negates its own intent!
The Qashqai sits on Nissan's so-called "CMF-C" platform and was therefore already prepared for alternative energy sources at launch. This concerns not only the space for batteries, but also their weight. Nissan was therefore able to adapt the Qashqai relatively easily to the extra weight and different weight distribution. Not only was the suspension modified, but also the steering.
The result of all these modifications is not that the e-Power drives the same as the Qashqai with only an internal combustion engine. Instead, Nissan has struck a new balance so that although the car is heavier, it feels lighter and even sportier.
Does Nissan's e-Power technology do what it promises? Only half. Indeed, this construction of a petrol engine generating power for an electric motor offers the quietness, comfort and agility of electric driving. Moreover, just like in an electric car, one-pedal driving is possible.
However, depending on conditions, it is noticeable when the petrol engine kicks in and/or generates extra energy. But the main problem is: consumption is no lower than that of a traditional hybrid and not even lower than that of a small, modern turbo engine. And despite the fact that this so-called "serial hybrid" is easier and thus more economical to manufacture than a parallel hybrid, the purchase price is not lower.
In a nutshell, the Nissan Qashqai e-Power is a petrol-powered electric car. This Qashqai therefore only makes sense for regions where the charging structure leaves something to be desired and/or electric driving is still in its infancy.
- Same range as a petrol car
- Many of the benefits of electric driving
- Better handling than conventional version
- No more economical than parallel hybrid or small turbo engine