Nissan wasn’t the first to market an electric vehicle (EV), but it was arguably the first to achieve success. Introduced nearly a decade ago, the original Leaf paved the way for other car companies to sell EVs, but in spite of a major update for 2018, the company wound up playing catch-up to competitors like the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Hyundai Kona Electric. Now, Nissan e-4ORCE (pronounced e-force) technology aims to reassert EV leadership for the automaker.
Introduced at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show, Nissan e-4ORCE is an all-wheel-drive electric propulsion system. Showcased in the company’s Ariya Concept vehicle, a 5-passenger electric SUV that Nissan claims is a design, engineering, and technological roadmap to the automaker’s future, e-4ORCE represents a substantial leap in sophistication over the current Leaf.
What is Nissan e-4ORCE (e-FORCE)?
Essentially, e-4ORCE is a two-motor, torque-vectoring, electric drivetrain that powers all four wheels of a vehicle. Employing lessons learned during the development of the Nissan GT-R’s torque-split AWD system and the Nissan Patrol’s intelligent 4WD system, engineers developed e-4ORCE to provide smooth, precise, and controlled acceleration, braking, handling, and ride quality.
Nissan, perhaps borrowing from new corporate partner Mitsubishi’s lexicon, refers to e-4ORCE as an all-wheel control system. “The e-4ORCE twin-motor all-wheel control technology offers precise handling and stability, which gives drivers greater confidence and even more excitement than ever before,” said Takao Asami, Nissan’s senior vice president of research and advanced engineering, in association with the e-4ORCE reveal at the 2020 CES. “This technology enables excellent cornering performance and traction on slippery surfaces and a comfortable ride for all passengers.”
In particular, Nissan strove to minimize vehicle pitch and dive to ensure level and steady ride motions in city traffic and on rough, bumpy roads. Not only do such qualities lend themselves to greater driver enjoyment, but they’re also necessary in autonomous vehicles in order to reduce the potential for motion sickness in travelers.
Another goal of Nissan e-4ORCE is improved traction in slippery driving conditions. Specifically, the company wants the technology to reduce the understeer common when driving in rain and snow. Again, in the short term, this is beneficial to drivers. But in the long term, it’s also critical for autonomous vehicles.
Nissan introduced e-4ORCE in the Ariya Concept SUV, but the company could debut the technology in the next generation of an iconic model. (Photo: Nissan)
SUV, sports car, or both?
Development versions of Nissan e-4ORCE make approximately 305 horsepower and 500 lb.-ft. of torque, easily enough to power an electric SUV like the Ariya Concept. Better yet, the wait to experience e-4ORCE first-hand isn’t far off.
“The Ariya Concept highlights Nissan’s promise of an entirely new driving experience that’s just on the horizon,” said Asami in a statement. “This zero-emission crossover isn’t a concept car based on far-off ideas; it’s a showcase of technologies available in the very near term.”
Where might Nissan e-4ORCE first debut? The automaker’s popular Rogue crossover SUV is in dire need of a redesign, and a production version based on the Ariya could make that model a design and technology leader in its segment.
However, the company’s iconic 370Z sports car is also well past its expiration date. Nissan has already hinted that the Z-car will remain a part of the company’s lineup, but perhaps not in the form we’ve come to know and love. Wouldn’t it be fitting to introduce the drivetrain of Nissan’s future in the spiritual successor to the car that in the past made the automaker a leader in terms of design and performance?