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INFINITI says new gasoline-generated EV system (Nissan e-POWER) central to electrification strategy

INFINITI’s future models will offer drivers a choice of electrified powertrains as the brand embraces new technology to propel its vehicles. (Earlier post.) These include fully-electric systems, as well as a gasoline-generated EV system (known as e-POWER at Nissan, earlier post) in which a gasoline engine generates electrical power stored in a battery (series hybrid), which can then be delivered to all four wheels through a pair of high-output electric motors.

These powertrains will be matched with dedicated platforms and vehicle architectures, delivering high performance, range confidence and reduced environmental impact.

INFINITI says that the new gasoline-generated EV powertrain is central to its electrification strategy, and establishes a new propulsion blueprint for many of the brand’s future models.

Offering the driving attributes of a high-performance electric car, this new powertrain eliminates two of the perceived obstacles to EV uptake among consumers—range confidence and the practicalities of recharging.

Power is provided directly to two high-output electric motors—one on each axle—by a battery pack located beneath the floor of the cabin, varying in capacity from 3.5 to 5.1 kWh depending on model.

As an electric car powered by gasoline, the character of the power delivery is as addictive, smooth and serene as in a high-performance battery electric vehicle. With instantaneous, electrifying responses to accelerator inputs, the electric motors provide their maximum torque from 0 rpm. The powerful motors deliver a total power output of between 185 and 320 kW (248 hp to 429 hp), depending on the vehicle.

Acceleration, as in any electric vehicle, is linear, with higher-powered versions of the powertrain able to accelerate from 0-to-62mph in around 4.5 seconds. Furthermore, the driver and passengers won’t experience the same ‘shift shock’ often associated with changing gear in a conventional hybrid or ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle.

The battery pack is recharged constantly by INFINITI’s new ‘MR15DDT’ engine. This three-cylinder 1.5-liter gasoline generator—the first application of this engine—uses INFINITI's VC-Turbo innovative variable compression ratio technology (earlier post), delivering a continuously variable rate of charge to the battery.

Crucially, the use of a gasoline generator means these vehicles will never need to be plugged in for hours to recharge. Indeed, they won’t have a charging port at all. The powertrain requires only a short stop at a gas station to refill the fuel tank, removing concerns about range.

Despite the high level of performance on offer, emissions for vehicles featuring the new gas-generated EV powertrain will be significantly reduced compared to existing vehicles from the brand, and other ICE vehicles offering similar power and performance.

Importantly, the system breaks the historic link between city driving and higher emissions, with the MR15DDT generator having to work less at low speeds to power the battery pack. The result is lower emissions and improved driving range in urban environments, where emissions for ICE vehicles are generally higher.

INFINITI vehicles equipped with the gas-generated EV powertrain will feature a series of advanced and world-first technologies and features to create the quiet, refined ride associated with conventional electric vehicles.

One of the most striking innovations is a world-first independent mounting system for the MR15DDT generator system beneath the hood, ensuring that engine noise and vibrations are virtually unnoticeable at any driving speed. To maintain calm and serenity in the cabin, the engine and electric motors are fully encapsulated to reduce audible engine noise and motor whine. The engine’s independent mount system features fluid-filled mounts, designed to absorb any further vibrations that it may otherwise send through the body.

The MR15DDT VC-Turbo engine itself is uncommonly smooth, with significantly reduced noise and vibration levels compared to conventional in-line engines. This is a result of its multi-link design, where the piston connecting rods are almost vertical during the combustion cycle, rather than moving wider laterally as they would in a traditional crankshaft rotation. This represents the ideal reciprocating motion, and entirely negates the need for balance shafts found in other in-line engines.

Inside the cabin itself, INFINITI’s gas-generated EVs are expected to offer Active Noise Cancellation, which will further counter any low frequency noises from the engine and road by producing opposing sound waves. This neutralizes unwanted noises in the cabin, and ensures a quieter, more peaceful ride.

These engine isolation and active sound control measures mean the system will never be more audible than any residual wind and road noise generated through driving. Combined with quiet tires, carefully tuned suspension systems, acoustic glass, and other passive soundproofing measures, vehicles equipped with the new gas-generated EV powertrain will offer a supremely serene ride, whatever the conditions.

For three decades INFINITI has built a reputation for introducing powertrains that excite and empower drivers. Our new gas-generated EV powertrain represents the next step into our electrified future, acting as a bridge to full electrification and setting the tone for our upcoming zero and ultra-low emission cars. However they are powered, our cars will offer thrilling yet serene electric performance, and e-AWD systems which inspire driver confidence.

—Eric Rigaux, General Manager, Product Strategy & Planning for INFINITI Motor Company

The fully-electric and gas-generated EV powertrain options will be matched with dedicated platforms and vehicle architectures under INFINITI’s new ‘two powertrains, one platform’ approach to model development. This will see the creation of platforms which can accommodate both types of powertrain, with a high level of commonality between each.

Delivering battery power to a high-performance e-AWD (electric all-wheel drive) system, the platforms of all INFINITI’s future electrified cars will be engineered to accommodate a pair of high-output electric motors – one on the front axle, one on the rear. For electric vehicles, the space between the two axles will house a high-capacity battery pack, while the gas-generated EV models will feature a significantly smaller battery pack, accompanied by a fuel tank and exhaust system connected to the front-mounted VC-Turbo gasoline generator. For all models, drive will be provided solely by electric motors.

Comments

Engineer-Poet

Strange not to offer PHEVs, given the ease of doing so.

electric-car-insider.com

I’m gonna quibble with Infiniti’s characterization of a car operating with a range extending motor running as “serene.”

Only when it’s operating solely from the battery.

Floatplane

It’s a hybrid. Using the term “EV” is deliberately confusing, they’re just trying to get on the bandwagon with this marketing ploy. 100% of the energy comes from gasoline. Total greenwashing.

KokomoKid1

It will drive like an EV, a good thing, but will get lousy gas mileage, especially on the highway. Is that what people want? I guess we will find out.

mahonj

@EP, I agree, maybe they just want to keep it simple.
I imagine it will get very good gas milage on the highway, the Note E-power was rated 80mpg US. This is a larger car, so obviously, it will be less, but I would expect it to be good, still.
If successful, you could experiment with solar roofs and PHEV.
IMO, you do not pure EVs*; there is a lot to be said for hybrids, parallel, serial or PHEV.

*because the batteries are way too big for most journeys.

gryf

This Infiniti hybrid makes no sense! The MR15DDT VC-Turbo engine has low compression with a turbo when high performance is needed, except this is a series hybrid which should be operating at optimum speed all the time, i.e. high compression, high efficiency mode, and the electric motors providing the high performance. Maybe Nissan after spending billions and 20 years R&D needs to make use of the VC-Turbo engine for something. The Toyota RAV4 PHEV will have better overall fuel economy, though maybe not have the peak performance of this QX model.

KokomoKid1

mahonj, It will get lousy gas mileage on the highway, combining the inefficiency of a motor, a generator, and the charge/discharge inefficiency of the batteries. There is a reason no one makes series hybrids, except Nissan, and no one sells them in the US. The Note E-Power hasn't been sold in the US, and won't be, because the highway mpg would be dismal compared to Prius, Ioniq, and the newer Honda hybrids.

The Volt was originally conceived as strictly series operation, but the highway mileage was really bad when running on gas, so they came up with a clutch system to connect the gas engine to the wheels at highway speed.

gryf

Maybe if they made this like the Honda Hybrid and switch to direct drive above 75 mph after 5 miles at that speed (one good use for the larger battery). The one problem withe Honda is that it switches too often between direct and charging mode.
Since this is a high performance vehicle, you can drive it quite fast (just not too often at top speed).

KokomoKid1

gryf I still think Toyota has the best hybrid system. I drove an Accord hybrid before buying a Camry hybrid, and while the current Accord matches the Camry in mpg, and I think is slightly quicker, you feel too much stuff going on, as you describe. With the Toyota system, there are no clutches or gear change, just electrical controls seamlessly using the two MGs and the engine to make the car go, while getting fantastic mpg.

It will be interesting to see how this Infiniti does, but I will be very surprised if the highway gas mileage is any better, if as good as a similar size and performance non-hybrid. It will also be interesting to learn how, uh, "serene" the gas generator is as it starts and stops. They will need really good isolation to make it "serene" at lower speed, where there's little other sound.

Engineer-Poet

What's interesting about this is the decoupling of the engine from immediate power demand.  I expect that Infiniti has gone with the Miller cycle, upsized the turbocharger for efficiency at the cost of throttle response and low-end torque (no longer needed), and maybe used a bigger intercooler with more plumbing volume.  This means the engine is going to take some time to respond to changes in power demand... but you don't need that anymore.  Slow, controllable power changes mean emissions can be optimized at almost all times.  I wouldn't be surprised if they get more back with the Millerized engine than they lose from the electric-only power path.

I've only been saying this since, like, the 90's.  Nice to see someone put it in practice.

gryf

@EP, you are right the Nissan VC-turbo has a Miller Cycle (Also here, though Nissan refers to it as Atkinson).
The 2019 Infiniti QX-50 which uses a 2.0 l VC-turbo gets about 22 mpg and can hit 60 mph in 6.4 seconds. One of it's problems is the CVT that got bad reviews. The 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid in top end models costs almost the same. It gets 37 mpg and has a 7.4-second zero-to-60-mph time.
The 2021 Infiniti QX=55 SUV Coupe will have a 4.5 second 0-60 mph time, the e-POWER AWD will no longer have the CVT, and it will have only 3 cylinders so much better fuel economy. Next year we will find which will be better Toyota or Infiniti.

bhtooefr

@mahonj: The 80 miles per US gallon figure is based on the JC08 test cycle, where most trims of the Note e-Power are rated for 34 km/l (there is a base trim rated for 37.2 km/l), but the maximum speed on that test cycle is 82 km/h, not even the national speed limit in Japan. Consider it a very gentle (not as gentle as the previous 10-15 mode cycle, but still gentle) city cycle, not highway.

bhtooefr

Oh, and the Note's closest hybrid competitor is AFAIK the Aqua, which most trims get 34.4 km/l on the JC08 cycle.

For comparison, the US-market Aqua - the Prius c - gets 48 city, 43 highway.

So, I'd expect a Versa Note e-Power to get something like 47 city, but it'd fall off a cliff on the highway without at least a clutch to bypass the serial hybrid system (ala the current Honda and Mitsubishi serial hybrid systems).

Peter_XX

I agree with KokomoKid1, series hybrid systems tend to be less efficient than parallel hybrid systems, particularly on highway. Toyota's THS is kind of a mix between series and parallel using the power-split. It sacrifices a little highway efficiency compared to an "ideal" system. In any case, it sets the current standard for fuel efficiency. I wonder how noice will be perceived (albeit if it is quiet) when there is not much connection between engine operation and power demand. For example, if the engine is running at high power during vehicle standstill.

TonyD

This series setup I think would be more effective for these trucks.
Ford F150 4wd 2.7 turbo = 20 combined mpg
Ford F150 4wd 3.5 turbo = 18 combined mpg
Ford expedition 4wd 3.5 turbo = 19 combined mpg
Ford Expedition MAX 4wd 3.5 turbo = 18 combined mpg
Electric motors should provide better torque and tow ratings. 2L NA running at most efficient RPM range for generator.
Getting these popular trucks to 26 combined would save an enormous amount of fuel.

gryf

Maybe this Infiniti Hybrid is not crazy after all. If you look at the Koenigsegg Regera which has a 4.5 kWh battery, recharges at 150 kWh (it also has over 500 kWh electric power), and has a 22 mile electric range; you have a "similar" high performance HEV.
I mention this because the Infiniti could charge the battery at a high rate, e.g. 100kWh.
So if you have a 20 mile electric range and a short 5 minute/5 mile recharge (@ 60 mph), maybe getting only 25 mpg at that charging rate, i.e. 1/5 gallon gasoline. Would that be 100 mpg?
Check my numbers please. This could be a EV for those who do not want a plug-in. Of course, if you want a BEV the architecture is already there.

Engineer-Poet

I can't understand what you think you're thinking, because it's incoherent; you're using kWh in places where you mean kW.

chano129

@bhtooefr nissan is well aware of that, that at higher speed series are less efficient, that why the larger battery pack, and the VC-turbo, also nissan e power uses a multiplier / reduction transmission that you are not aware of, you think the note was just fuel efficient like that?

chano129

@peter _xx, it think one of the things people forget is that nissan e power does not operate like regular series, yep series use more gas a higher speed, but nissan also has a multplier /reducer transmission , plus a large buffer batter, unlike most series.

chano129

@grfy, you also correct, but how infiniti/nissan is doing, it is by a multiplier/reducer transmission like in current e power system, and they also now include the VC-turbo engine, which will help give better efficiency on highway. with multiplier trans you can increase power output, while the engine runs at optimum efficiency.

gryf

Was not thinking -- should say: recharges at 150 kW (it also has over 500 kW electric power), and has a 22 mile electric range; you have a "similar" high performance HEV.
I mention this because the Infiniti could charge the battery at a high rate, e.g. 100kW.

gryf

Maybe a better way to project the fuel economy of this future Infiniti would be based on recharging the roughly 5000 watt-hour battery at 40% efficiency (for the VC-turbo). This would require 12,500 watt-hours or .37 gallons of gasoline (@ 33.7 kilowatt hours of electricity equivalent to one gallon of gasoline). So if the 5000 watt-hour battery delivers 20 mile range, this would give 54 mpg. Realistically probably less.

chano129

@: bhtooefr, you quote "The 80 miles per US gallon figure is based on the JC08 test cycle" which you are wrong, the 80 MPG is based off automotive news journalist Hans test driving the car itself at tweet he got 88 MPG.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/bertelschmitt/2016/11/11/automotive-news-reporter-gets-88-mpg-in-new-e-powered-nissan-note/#7131e69c5e8b

KokomoKid1

To know the fuel economy of this vehicle, we will need to wait and see, both for the EPA numbers, and the generally more useful Consumer Reports numbers which tend to be lower, and closer to real world mileage.

As far as the Nissan variable displacement complexity-for-complexity's sake engine, it is completely underwhelming, both in EPA and CR fuel efficiency. It beat the bigger, similar performance Lexus RX by 2 mpg combined in the EPA tests, and the two are tied in CR's overall mileage. Also, the plain, old V6 in the Lexus uses regular gas, while complexity for fun Infiniti is supposed to have premium.

chano129

@KoKommokid1, the VC-T in the QX50, is used in the altima, It is performing well in both EPA and figures also fuelly, with may getting mid 30 combined. It also perform well in car and driver test fuel efficient test, and in wards auto test hit up to 38 MPG, beating out the regular 2.5.

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