When Nissan invited the media for a special event after it launched the Magnite sub-compact SUV about 23 months ago, speculation was rife on the possible introduction of its battery electric vehicle, the Nissan LEAF.
However, it turned out to be Nissan India’s first move towards bringing to the market electrified vehicles as it showcased today three hybrid models – Qashqai, Juke and X-Trail – which, as per the company, are meant at this stage to be tested across the length and breadth of the country, before any decision to launch them is considered.
All three vehicles are hybrids in their own way, as the vehicles have a battery, a motor and an internal combustion engine, working in different combinations.
“The Indian market has boundless potential, and it is critical that we introduce the best vehicle line-up to align with what modern Indian consumers want and need,” said Frank Torres, President, Nissan India.
Echoing the sentiments, Joni Povai, Divisional Vice President, Africa, Middle East, India and Oceania region, Nissan Motor Corporation, told Mobility Outlook on the sidelines of the unveiling that the Magnite launched in December 2020 had done well despite several constraints, including the pandemic and chip-induced supply chain crisis. This boosted Nissan's confidence in the potential India has and, therefore, is carrying out the study to understand the acceptance of the models.
On the supply chain issues, Povai said the situation is getting better, especially with semiconductors. “Many suppliers are coming up to speed, but due to a few of them, we are impacted sometimes. Freight capacity, cost of logistics are still concerns for us,” he added.
Sharing his views on the opportunities for the new products, Mohan Wilson, Director – Marketing, Nissan Motor India, told this publication that Nissan has a range of products and is ready to bring in products based on market demand.
“The presence of an R&D and manufacturing facility, and an established vendor base will help. Now it is only about matching the consumer needs, finding the right environment in terms of ecosystem and moving forward. It’s a good new phase,” Wilson said.
X-Trail To Debut First
Of the three SUVs Nissan India showcased today, testing has already begun on the X-Trail and Qashqai, while Juke is in the queue. X-Trail will be the first to hit the roads, although the company officials gave no specific time.
The X-Trail is a 5/7-seater SUV equipped with Nissan’s innovative e-Power drivetrain that is claimed to offer effortless electric performance and refinement. The e-Power drivetrain includes a gasoline engine that charges the high-output battery, when necessary. This eliminates the need for an external charger, while offering the same high output as an EV, the company explained. The advanced three-cylinder variable compression ratio turbocharged petrol engine solely generates electricity, while the electric motor drives the wheels.
This ensures effortless, linear and refined progress with instant response to demand. The engine generating electricity can always run within its optimal range and best compression ratio, leading to superior fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions compared with a traditional internal combustion motor. Besides, it helps in containing engine noise and pollution.
Qashqai, The Next Contender
The next in pecking order, likely to be introduced in India, is the Qashqai. Underpinning the vehicle is the new Alliance CMF-C platform, which has allowed Japanese product planners, designers and engineers to create a vehicle that successfully reconciles challenging customer demands of design, spaciousness, dynamics and carbon footprint.
The model is offered with two powertrain options – one a 1.3-litre petrol with mild hybrid, which is offered with two outputs and the other, powered by Nissan’s exclusive e-Power technology.
The mild hybrid system is powered by a 12V ALiS (Advanced Lithium-ion battery System), and it offers torque assist, extended idle stop, quick restart and coasting stop (Xtronic only); enhancing both fuel economy and CO2 output. When decelerating, energy is recovered through regeneration and stored in the Lithium-ion battery. This charged energy is then supplied during Idling Stop, Coasting Stop (Xtronic versions only) and Torque Assist, the company stated.
Further, when coasting to a stop, at speeds of less than 18 km/h, with light braking, the engine will switch off, and the stored energy is used to power the vehicle's electrical equipment. This allows engine stop to be extended and fuel consumption lowered as a result. Although a six-speed manual gearbox is the standard option for the Qashqai, it also comes with an Xtronic automatic gearbox.
The e-Power system, meanwhile, comprises a high-output battery complemented by a variable compression ratio of 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo-charged petrol engine generating 156 hp, a power generator, inverter and 140 kW electric motor of similar size, and power output as found in Nissan's electric vehicles.
The petrol engine generates electricity, which can be transmitted via the inverter to the battery pack, the electric motor, or both, based on the driving scenario. Interestingly, the electric motor is the sole power source for the wheels, so its response is instant and linear, delivering a pleasurable, effortless, and smooth driving experience.
Juke has a multi-modal powertrain and smart gearbox that offer drivers pure-electric power or a combination of combustion engine and electric motor. The drive system is intelligently tuned to maximise the amount of time the vehicle spends in EV mode. It's innovative e-Pedal step system allows the driver to accelerate and decelerate to a slow creep speed (~5 kmph) enhancing comfort and convenience on the move, stated a release issued by the company.
While announcing the next phase of product offensive from the company, Rakesh Srivastava, Managing Director, Nissan Motor India spoke about a transformation that promises a lot for the Indian subsidiary of the Japanese automaker.
Mobility Outlook asked him what this transformation means for the growth of the company. Srivasatava said, “When you are investing in a market like India, you are addressing multiple stakeholders. You are also addressing the brand. This is what we want to do now – build the Nissan brand in India. The turnaround started with the Nissan Magnite, and now we are targeting a transformation of the brand.”