Nissan has been quietly playing with its electric vehicle technology and brought the latest development vehicle to CES this year in Las Vegas. The Nissan e-4orce is a dual-motor electric vehicle built on top of a production right hand drive 62 kWh Nissan LEAF Plus that was built to help Nissan’s electric vehicle engineers not just add a second motor to a vehicle, but to control that power in a way that maximizes all the benefits of the electric powertrain.
The second motor boosts the max power output of the vehicle up to 227 kW with a heart-stopping 680Nm of torque. Nissan invited CleanTechnica out to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to take the e-4orce-fortified Nissan LEAF for a few spins around a carefully mapped out track to put it to the test. We hit the carefully wetted asphalt first to get used to the car, then to put the pedal to the metal to test the e-4orce system.
The e-4orce system was not developed to showcase the power of the LEAF, but rather, as a way for Nissan to tune and refine its driving management system in a way that refines some of the rougher edges that come with electric vehicles. 680Nm of torque is amazing, but translating it into rapid acceleration in any conditions without just spinning the tires is a completely different challenge.
In real terms, the system uses torque vectoring to adjust the power being applied to maximize traction, translating to more useful power being laid down to move the car forward instead of just smoking the tires. This core capability is paired with a new dynamic braking scheme that adjusts the amount of braking power applied at each wheel as needed over time. The result is a smoother driving vehicle that, even under the brutal conditions we pushed it to the limit in, maintained traction by smoothing out the acceleration when blasting around a tight circle on the track.
Braking was not evident, though with all the g-forces being applied, it’s possible the system utilized the brakes to maintain an even greater level of control as well. I floored the pedal without the e-4orce system engaged and found the vehicle to have more power, but far less control as we nearly skidded out of the tight circle on the track. I was forced to play with the throttle just to keep the vehicle from completely losing its marbles, skidding out of the loop. We turned the system on for another lap around the circle and I was able to stick to a far tighter loop around the track without the need to play with the throttle. Just pound the pedal to the metal and let the car’s intelligent e-4orce system do the rest.
The company has no plans to bring the e-4orce system to production in its current manifestation in the LEAF, as that is primarily intended for use as a development playground for its R&D teams. When we pressed the issue, company representatives hinted that the technology was present in the Nissan Ariya concept that made its North American debut just a few miles away at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Having said that, they were also careful not to say that the system would necessarily be in the production version of the Ariya if and when it comes to market.
If I had to put some money on it, I would expect to see the e-4orce system make its production debut in the Ariya when it does finally come to market.
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