Over the past three years, Nissan has accumulated crises. In addition to the combined effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the difficulties in supplying electronic components or raw materials that have shocked the entire automotive industry, the Japanese brand has had to face its own woes. At the end of 2018 he abruptly separated from Carlos Ghosn, his president, and had to renegotiate, not without difficulty, the terms of the governance of his alliance with Renault. For not having renewed its models in time, the Yokohama company found itself especially facing the end of the cycle when sales of electrified models exploded.

Its accounts plummeted, its historic Barcelona factory had to close, and its market share in the world fell by a third. Today, Nissan’s top management ensures that the time has come for the reconquest. Postponed several times, the catalog renewal program – fifteen launches of electrified models are expected by 2030 – is finally taking shape. Its spearhead: a technology that has never established itself outside of Japan but which, if it were able to convince in Europe and the United States, would offer the company a lasting competitive advantage.

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It is a hybrid, called e-Power, whose thermal engine acts exclusively to supply energy to a buffer battery or directly to the electric motor. In conventional hybrids, the two engines run in parallel; here, only the electric lock operates the wheels. The e-Power system, which will be offered this autumn on board the new generation of the Qashqai, a “crossover” produced in 5.5 million units since 2007, allows you to drive an electric car without having to recharge it on a terminal, since it is the petrol engine (1.5 liters with variable compression ratio) that takes care of it.

“Last machine before fully electric”

A transition model that looks like “the last car before the switch to fully electric”. This hybridization, considered by some manufacturers but never commercialized on a large scale, has been successfully distributed in Japan since 2016. In practice, the Qashqai e-Power guarantees an equally smooth and responsive ride as a purely electric vehicle, with frank acceleration intervening without the internal combustion engine, which remains discreet, giving the impression of a race, as happens on board some hybrids.

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To help make the car quieter, an acoustic box produces vibrations that neutralize some of those caused by the four-cylinder. Tested on the heavily guarded roads around Stockholm, Sweden, the car averaged just over 5 liters per 100 kilometers. A flattering result, but which will have to be confirmed in conditions more in line with the reality of French car traffic. In particular on the motorway, a less favorable terrain for electrified cars than urban and peri-urban routes, a use for which the Qashqai e-Power is mainly intended.

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