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Nissan has developed a new range-extender electric drivetrain called e-POWER, a hybrid system similar to that used in the BMW i3 and a development of what it used in last year’s slick Gripz concept.

The Japanese-made e-POWER system comprises an electric motor to drive the wheels, sourcing power from battery cells via an inverter. So far, so common.

But when the cells deplete, rather than having to plug the car into a wall like an EV or PHEV, the e-POWER system instead has a small petrol engine that kicks in and generates charge.

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This means the petrol engine is purely a generator, and is never coupled to the wheels, making it conceptually similar to the BMW i3 REX, which uses a 650cc bike engine as its generator.

Given many people lament the apparent rigamarole of plugging a car in, or perhaps lack access to charging infrastructure, this makes for a viable alternative.

Interestingly, Nissan claims it has “cracked the code” and rectified packaging issues inherent with such a complex drivetrain. Details are scarce, but the company promises that e-POWER uses a smaller battery than the 170km range Leaf EV, but goes as well.

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However, unlike BMW’s unique i3 architecture developed purely for EVs, it appears that the e-POWER’s first application will be integrated into an existing IC vehicle — the Note.

Nissan claims that e-POWER delivers torque almost instantly like any EV, uses less fuel than many conventional hybrids, and needs no charging.

Nissan isn’t saying much in terms of detail yet, meaning we don’t know the e-POWER’s battery size, engine output or the system’s range. The i3 REX can cover up to 320km between its cells’ life and petrol tank range.

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Nissan calls itself the world’s EV leader, with more than 250,000 units of the Leaf sold, though Volkswagen has designs on its throne.

Nissan Australia says it’s too early to assess the viability of e-POWER for our market, though given our comparative lack of infrastructure, it would seem suitable once fitted to more models.

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