Full electric power will be reserved for a separate SUV model based on an all-new platform. It’s likely to underpin a whole family of electric cars spanning B, C and D segments (everything from Juke to X-Trail) for Nissan and its Alliance partners Renault and Mitsubishi.
The next Qashqai, previewed by our exclusive images, will be based on a new version of the Alliance’s CMF (Common Module Family) platform architecture that can accommodate hybrid tech.
Speaking exclusively to Auto Express, Ponz Pandikuthira, vice-president of product planning for Nissan Europe, said: “We are looking at a new platform because that’s what’s best to accommodate electrified technologies.
“It probably won’t include full electrification, because that’s a complete tear-up and the investment required for that would be considerably higher.”
The Qashqai is likely to offer two forms of hybrid – one featuring Nissan’s innovative ePower system, plus plug-in hybrid power from Mitsubishi.
An ePower engine can currently be found in the Nissan Note in Japan, where it’s proven popular. Its series hybrid system features a petrol engine that works as a generator to charge a battery that then powers an e-motor.
“We’re investigating the ePower technology for Europe,” explained Pandikuthira. “The biggest difference when you do these onboard generator vehicles is highway driving; in Japan, they typically don’t go above 50-65mph.
“Here in Europe, you do 80-85mph on a regular basis. At those speeds, you end up depleting the battery very quickly, so the range extender has to work really hard to keep the energy going and then it goes out of its range of efficiency.”
Plug-in hybrid tech will come from Mitsubishi, widely accepted as a leader in the technology, thanks in part to the sophisticated ECUs from Mitsubishi Electronics. Unlike rivals, Mitsubishi has already managed to tweak its Outlander PHEV to produce figures below 50g/km CO2 under the new, tighter WLTP testing regime. It’s expected the new Qashqai will offer similar figures.
Pandikuthira isn’t convinced about the benefits of plug-in hybrids, however. He told us: “We’re not pursuing a big plug-in hybrid strategy. On some car lines we’ll try it out, but the business case for plug-in hybrids is not very good. For us, it’s a bridge technology for the next two to four years until battery costs drop to the point where the variable costs of making full EVs prevail.”
With two hybrid models in the next Qashqai, insiders have hinted that it’s likely to spell the end of diesel power in Nissan’s SUV, as diesel sales are down nearly 32 per cent so far this year.
The new car will feature more technology, with updates to the ProPilot autonomous systems and greater connectivity.
Regarding the styling of the next Qashqai, we expect it to adopt a revolutionary new look, previewed in our images, but it isn’t expected to get any bigger, with Pandikuthira saying: “You’ll notice with [the last] Qashqai, we left it at 4.4 metres. We didn’t grow it into a big, bloated vehicle.”
Following the next Qashqai into dealers will be Nissan’s pure-electric SUV. Pandikuthira added: “When you develop an electric car from the ground up to be electric, you make fundamentally different choices to make a more efficient electric car. If we took a Qashqai and made it electric, which we could, you introduce compromises. It will neither be an efficient internal combustion-engined car even if it were a hybrid, nor would it be the best electric vehicle.”
Take a look at Nissan’s all-electic IMx Kuro SUV concept right here…