Nissan Powers Up Series Hybrid Tests in Michigan

November 14, 2017 at 11:19 AM

Nissan Motor Co. is testing a hybrid version of its Note hatchback in Michigan, according to recent media reports and spy photos.

The carmaker introduced the Note e-Power series hybrid model in Japan late last year. The architecture, which is similar to that of the Chevrolet Volt, teams a front axle-mounted electric motor and lithium-ion battery with a small gasoline engine.

Unlike the Volt and other so-called extended-range hybrids, the Note e-Power has no plug-in capability. Instead, the battery is charged solely by a generator powered by a 1.2-liter, 3-cylinder engine. Nissan uses the same engine to drive its March/Micra subcompact car.

Nissan says the Note e-Power’s battery is only about 5% the size of the system used in its Leaf electric vehicle, which is rated at 30 kWh. The engine runs at a constant 2,500 rpm to feed electricity to the battery.

Sales of the Note e-Power in Japan have rivaled that of Toyota Motor Corp.’s top-selling Prius hybrid. Based on that success, Nissan recently announced plans to add an e-Power version of its Serena minivan next spring in Japan.

The Note is marketed in the U.S. as the Versa Note. That vehicle is powered by a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine.