The Nissan Juke is not sold in the US, though it should be. But the point is that its interesting new hybrid system should start showing up in new Nissans here soon. It is an intriguing and interesting, though complex, approach to hybridization. Nissan expects it to reduce fuel consumption by 40 percent. Here’s what we know.
Nissan’s new full-hybrid E-Tech system incorporates a 49 hp electric motor, along with its 1.6-liter I4 ICE engine with 94 hp. It works in conjunction with a 15kW starter/generator hooked to the engine, an inverter, and a 1.2kWh battery that is water-cooled. All of this spins the unique transmission.
What makes this Nissan hybrid transmission unique?
First, four of the gears are used for the gas engine, with the other two used in electric mode. There is no clutch. Rather than using synchronizers, Nissan went with dog clutches. Dog clutches don’t wear like friction clutches so. And they are normally found used in manual clutch applications to lock the input and output shafts.
In those applications, a synchronizer is used to match the shaft speeds for a mostly seamless engagement. But that doesn’t mean you’ll have to manually shift gears with this Nissan transmission. The two electric motors synchronize the gears.
Shift points are controlled by the ECU. It also controls battery regeneration and the series-parallel hybrid architecture. So it’s not a series hybrid, parallel hybrid, or series-parallel hybrid. The unique transmission essentially does all of the work for you. Nissan says it is 25 percent more powerful than the gas-engine option.
How does this hybrid transmission work?
How does it work? First, you start in electric mode, where it stays up to 34 mph. Then, depending on how hard you’re driving, battery charge, and the speed you’re at, the two electric motors combined synchronize the gears. If more power is needed, the motors can start the ICE engine. Otherwise, it stays mostly in electric mode.
The end result is a “smooth, connected, and responsive acceleration.” We can’t wait to try it out for ourselves. Though, as we said, the Juke is not sold here.
Instead, we have the milder, derivative Kicks. We don’t know why Nissan needs the distinct models when the Juke sold well here, is selling well now in Europe, and requires additional tooling costs for different models. Nissan, why not just sell the Juke here?
Did Nissan make any exterior changes to the Juke Hybrid?
Anyway, if you’re anywhere where the Juke is sold, you won’t see much distinction between the E-Tech hybrid and conventionally-powered version. Exterior changes include a smaller grille, a different lower front valance to help with aero, and a slightly different spoiler. You also have the option of adding the 19-inch Ariya-type alloy wheels.
In all, it seems somewhat revolutionary, is a unique take on hybridization, and will be interesting to drive. Would we like to see more power? Sure, but this is mostly a city commuter car you can also be comfortable in on longer hauls.
Nissan is trying to get its mojo back, and this unique hybrid technology is one way it is doing that. We’ll have more on the E-Tech system once it hits the US.