New Nissan Qashqai with innovative hybrid technology
Nissan today presents its third-generation Qashqai. This model is important: it consolidates the manufacturer’s commitment to stay on the European market. In the same breath, the Japanese brand announces innovative hybrid technology.
In the summer of 2021, Nissan will launch the new generation Qashqai, which is slightly longer (3 cm) than its predecessor and makes a difference with additional technology, additional connectivity, and innovative engine configurations.
Like the first generation (2007) and the second Qashqai (2014), this compact SUV was developed in Europe and built at the UK production site in Sunderland. Now that there is also a Brexit deal, many economic issues seem to have been resolved there.
The SUV layout will not be touched, as it remains the most important growth segment within the automotive sector. After all, the share of compact SUVs has increased by 200% since 2010, and consumers still regard this body style as the ultimate family car.
Many people go for it despite the higher build, the additional weight, and the often wider tires resulting in higher CO2 emissions than those of a classic saloon or estate car.
The mild-hybrid system reduces CO2 by 4 g/km
However, Nissan states that the new Qashqai’s aerodynamic disadvantage compared to a saloon is very limited. Moreover, fuel-efficient engines should further reduce CO2 emissions. A fully electric version is not planned initially, but only a mild-hybrid gasoline engine will be offered from the launch.
The 1.3 Turbo engine (from the Alliance), which Renault and Mercedes also use, delivers 138 or 156 hp and is assisted by a (12 V) electric motor that provides 6 Nm extra torque when accelerating. The engineers promise that this system, which only weighs 22 kg, reduces CO2 emissions by 4 grams per km.
A full hybrid version in 2022
Nissan also promises full hybrid motorization with the name e-POWER. This system differs fundamentally from the hybrid systems we have seen so far. The car is always driven 100% electrically, and power is supplied by a small battery that is permanently loaded by a 1.5-liter gasoline engine.
The system’s biggest advantage is that it feels like an electric car to the driver because of the instant torque, quiet operation, and linear acceleration, as there is no conventional gearbox.
Precisely because there is no need for a transmission in which the combustion engine’s drive and that of the electric motor must be combined, the mechanical construction is much more straightforward.
This is not only cheaper to produce, but it would also have advantages in terms of long-term service costs. Nissan says that this technology will reduce CO2 emissions by more than 20 grams per km.
Strange (Alliance) strategy
This e-POWER technology seems promising, but it also reveals a not quite as consistent alliance strategy. On the one hand, Nissan boasts that the Qashqai is a European product developed in and for Europe. Still, e-POWER is a Japanese story that has been successfully implemented on the domestic market in models like the Note and the Serena.
In Europe, Alliance partner Renault has just invested a fortune in the E-TECH engine range, which includes both hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains that should, in principle, also be accessible to the other brands within the alliance.
It would enable the Alliance members to spread the considerable R&D investment over a larger number of products. This leads us to an all-important question: is the new Qashqai not as European as it looks?