Why The Nissan Kicks e-Power May Promote EVs More Than If It Had a Plug

Check any article that decides to say an e-Power vehicle is electric for strong reactions. Many of the so-called EV advocates will reject anything that burns fuel. They will call it a combustion-engined car even if it is not. By doing that, the same people that proclaim they want to promote electric mobility will hamper its adoption and preserve much less efficient vehicles around for more time than they should be. They miss a crucial point: regardless of using a plug or fuel, these cars offer the same driving experience you would expect from a pure battery electric vehicle. In that sense, the Nissan Kicks e-Power may be the best EV advocate in years, mostly because it tends to be very affordable.

That has a lot do to with the weak definition series hybrids provides to these machines. According to it, the BMW i3 is an EV when it does not have a range extender and a plug-in hybrid if it comes with one. It is pure semantics: what really drives the car is a motor, not an engine. That alone should classify a vehicle as an electric car or a combustion-engined automobile.

It is in this context that technologies such as e-Power provide a safe and affordable access point to electric cars. They allow people without robust charging infrastructures the ability to drive a vehicle powered solely by an electric motor. There is no range anxiety involved since they can refuel anywhere and still get the EV driving experience, both in immediate, torquey responses and the energy efficiency they offer. That is especially true with the Nissan Kicks e-Power. Although it is more expensive than the Note, it is for sale in more markets than the hatchback brother, which also has the option of an e-Power powertrain. We expect to see it for sale in the US and in Brazil, where it will be able to burn ethanol, a renewable fuel.

This powertrain consists of an EM57 electric motor that delivers 95 kW (129 PS) and 260 Nm. Its 1.2 liters DOHC 12-valve three-cylinder engine works only as a generator. With the help of an inverter, it both feeds the electric motor and the 1.57 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that gets the Kicks going most of the time.

When it gets to pricing, the most affordable version of the Kicks e-Power is the S. It costs 889,000 bahts or the equivalent to $27,886. The VL derivative, fully loaded, will make you spend 1,049,000 bahts or a little more than $32,900. For that kind of money, you could buy a Nissan Leaf in the US, but prices can be very different for other markets, depending on taxes. Typically, the e-Power system adds 20% to the amount of the car, which leads us to expect that it would cost around $22,000 in the US.

The COVID-19 pandemic will not allow us to check the sales success immediately after the presentation, but the new Kicks e-Power will undoubtedly help promote electric mobility. Once people know how a car propelled by motors behaves, they will probably be more receptive to the idea of a fully electric car. It is a pity so many “EV advocates” do not realize that.

Gustavo Henrique Ruffo

I have been an automotive journalist since 1998 and have worked for many important Brazilian newspapers and magazines, such as the local edition of Car and Driver and Quatro Rodas, Brazilian's biggest car magazine. I have also worked for foreign websites, such as World Car Fans and won a few journalism prizes, among them three SAE Journalism Awards and the 2017 IAM RoadSmart Safety Award. I am the author of "The Traffic Cholesterol", a book about bad drivers that you can buy at Hotmart, Google Play, Amazon and Kobo.

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