Nissan unveiled a new experimental electric vehicle today, one with a twin-motor powertrain and all-wheel drive. Based on the battery-powered Leaf e Plus (that's the in America) this car is a strong indication of what we can expect from the automaker's next-generation EVs.
Gracing this test vehicle with four-corner traction is a pair of electric motors, one at each axle. Together, they deliver 227 kW of maximum output with 680 Newton meters of torque. In not-so-metric figures, those sums work out to about 304 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of tire-smoking twist.
Each motor is precisely regulated by specially developed Nissan chassis-control technology, which enables a number of things. For instance, body pitch and dive can be reduced by employing regenerative braking at the rear motor as well as the front one. This can help prevent occupants from being tossed about.
While traversing rough sections of roadway, precision motor control can also smooth out the car's ride, reducing the bumps felt by passengers. Beyond this, individual brake control can help direct the vehicle around corners with reduced steering input from the driver.
This test machine may have the same wheelbase and overall length as a standard Nissan Leaf, but plenty of changes have been made. The most significant alterations are, of course, under the skin, but this car has also been fitted with fender flares for a more aggressive look and rally-style wheels. Inside, there's a 12.3-inch screen on the dashboard that, in real time, displays what the drivetrain is doing.
Powering an electric vehicle with more than one motor is nothing new; Tesla's been doing it for years. Toyota even offers its hybrid with all-wheel drive. The car's back wheels are turned by a separate, rear-mounted, induction-style motor-generator. What Nissan appears to be doing with this test vehicle is creating more advanced control software and using the twin-motor layout to do some interesting things to improve passenger comfort.
"Soon, Nissan will launch a next-generation EV that will be a true breakthrough," said Takao Asami, senior vice president for research and advanced engineering at Nissan. "The new electric-drive four-wheel-control technology now being developed integrates Nissan's electric propulsion and 4WD control technologies with our chassis control technology to achieve a huge leap in acceleration, cornering and braking performance, on par with the latest sports cars."