Nissan has shown off the possibilities for an electric all-wheel drivetrain, mounting it in a Nissan Leaf, but it steered clear of identifying the system as an “alliance” drivetrain that likely will be shared with other manufacturers, most notably Mitsubishi.
The hint at such comes from timing — the all-wheel control system was introduced at the same time at the Tokyo Motor Show as Mitsubishi introduced a concept with a similar all-wheel drivetrain using similar front-axle and rear-axle-mounted motors. It seems counter to the objectives of the Alliance to have two partners working on similar drivetrains separately at the same time.
“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 4-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.”
There is very little different between the current Nissan Leaf and this test car (the main difference being the overfenders to effectively house the rally style wheels), which means one of two things — either the system is ready to go and can be integrated fairly easily in the current Leaf and quickly brought to market; or, the car is simply a test mule to vigorously test out the system that is still a year or two away.
The maximum output of the system is 227 kW (308 hp) with torque rated at 502 lb-ft, which combines with Nissan’s chassis control to maximize driving dynamics on any surface and surface condition. Adding regenerative braking at all four wheels reportedly also minimizes the pitch and dive exacerbated in an EV as it accelerates and brakes, smoothening out the ride experience for passengers (and reportedly lessening the potential for motion sickness). The independent brake control at each wheel also improves cornering.
Cabin occupants can see the system at work in real time while driving, thanks to a 12.3-inch instrument panel display that relays g-forces and the relative amount of torque/braking applied at each wheel.