Nissan is a veteran in the electric-car game with their Nissan Leaf, launched a decade ago. But as more manufacturers started to enter this space, the priorities and requirements of customers for an electric car have changed. Electric powertrains have an exhilarating grunt of performance available right from a standstill. Nissan believes while performance is always desirable, there should be a way to control and balance that performance in the usable way. Nissan has developed an all-new electric powertrain technology to provide performance in a more controllable package.
Nissan is calling it an e-4ORCE All-Wheel-Drive system, developed to aid drivers of different skill levels to control the instant torque and power of electric powertrains. The power is spread across all the four wheels while still maintaining balance and composure.
The “e” in e-4ORCE represents Nissan’s fully electric powertrain system. “4ORCE” which is pronounced as the vector, Force, represents the car’s physical forces and energy, with “4” representing the all-wheel-drive system.
As mentioned previously, the motive is to aid performance which should be exploitable by all drivers alike by ensuring comfort for everyone in the car, controlling power output and braking performance for maximum smoothness and stability.
Nissan has developed the e-4ORCE to deliver these aids in four different ways:
1) All-electric system
Until now, all Nissan electric cars have used a single electric motor which traditionally drives the front wheels. The new e-4ORCE system is built around two electric motors spreading its power across all of its wheels. Nissan is also hinting using this system in the Nissan Ariya EV crossover that will be unveiled next month.
This all-wheel-drive system not only aids in straight-line acceleration but in maintaining composure in the corners and help the driver maintain his line. Apart from the performance benefits, this serves as a safety feature as it can help to avoid an obstacle, say an animal or someone crossing the road carelessly. This will help in crash mitigation as well as the safety of others on the road.
Nissan has pioneered its All-wheel-drive system with its legendary GT-R lineup which is nicknamed the ‘Godzilla’ for its blistering lap times across different circuits around the world. It dominated the JTCC touring car championship with their ATTESSA E-TS torque split system and made the GT-R the cult symbol it is today. Apart from on-track performance, Nissan has mastered the off-road capabilities of its all-wheel-drive system with the Nissan Patrol. Taking all of these prior experiences, Nissan says it has everything that it needs to make the e-4ORCE one of the most robust systems available.
2) Superb handling
The e-4ORCE all-wheel-drive system constantly maintains chassis balance by offering line tracing and steering precision making the vehicle more predictable while driving it. This system constantly distributes the output of both of the electric motors to each wheel and offers brake control.
Ryozo Hiraku, leader of Nissan’s powertrain and EV engineering division says this system is fine-tuned to deliver precise performance that supports the driver’s intentions for an enjoyable drive under a wide variety of conditions.
Normally while turning, the car tends to experience a push towards the outside line of a corner which will force the driver to provide excess steering input or compensate by reducing power for a better turn-in. This is the phenomenon of understeer. e-4ORCE system solves this by splitting torque across the front and rear wheels to maximise the grip available to the front tyres. e-4ORCE All-wheel-drive system is very versatile in the way it can distribute power. By default, it remains 50-50 across the front and the back but in demanding situations, it can send all of the power to either front or back and constantly modulates the power across. When it comes to deceleration, both regenerative braking and the traditional hydraulic brakes join forces to aid in the required braking.
As a result, this combination will provide more control in cornering while still maintaining a pleasant and predictable driving experience.
3. Reliable comfort for all
Electric power can be overwhelming when all of the power is put to the ground. It is not a smooth experience and couple that with sudden braking, it’ll cause the vehicle to pitch and dive. The challenge is to provide the performance while still maintaining a comfortable ride to all occupants inside the car in every scenario.
Thanks to the e-4ORCE system, the power and braking are distributed evenly across all of its wheels in a manner that ensures comfort while reducing pitch and dive. Regenerative braking is modulated for smooth braking while also feeding electricity back to the batteries. This helps maintain a level cabin which reduces the feeling of motion sickness in the everyday traffic commute. This reduces tiredness in everyone in the cabin for long journeys.
4. Enhanced on-road confidence
Not everybody driving on the road is Colin McRae so driving in slippery, wet, cold and icy terrains can be challenging even for the best of drivers. As mentioned, the e-4ORCE system constantly distributes the power across the wheels having the most grip to ensure the car has the maximum possible grip available in that terrain. Torque-splitting will help to maintain performance and line-traceability even when the driver demands more power.
This system is implemented to be discrete during its operation as this should feel completely natural for the driver. Background aids should not interrupt the driver. Once the driver gets used to this, he’ll find it different driving a car without these aids.