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New 2020 Nissan Qashqai set to go hybrid

The next-generation Qashqai will feature two new hybrid powertrains, and our exclusive images preview the new model’s styling

Nissan’s third-generation Qashqai will go on sale this year, sporting a pair of new hybrid powertrains, an updated version of the current car’s CMF underpinnings and a sleek design makeover. Nissan is also considering ditching the Qashqai’s diesel engine to help lower the SUV’s carbon emissions.

Nissan has also confirmed that there won’t be a pure-electric version of the new Qashqai. Full electric power will be reserved for a seperate SUV model based on an all-new platform, which is likely to underpin a whole family of electric cars spanning the B, C and D segments for Nissan and its Alliance partners Renault and Mitsubishi.

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The next-generation Qashqai will be based on an updated version of the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s CMF platform, which offers support for electrification. There won’t be EV variant of the Qashqai with that niche instead being filled by the Japanese brand’s forthcoming all-electric SUV, which was previewed by the Ariya concept at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show.

Speaking exclusively to Auto Express, Ponz Pandikuthira, Nissan’s Europen Vice President of Product Planning, said: “a new platform is what’s best to accommodate electrified technologies. It probably won’t include full electrification, because that’s a complete tear-up and the investment required for that would be considerably higher.”

Hybrid powertrains

As such, the new Qashqai will be offered with two hybrid powertrains – one featuring Nissan’s innovative ePower system and one sporting Mitsubishi’s plug-in hybrid powertrain. The former system is currently found in the Japanese-delivered Nissan Note, where it’s proven popular. It’s a series hybrid system featuring a petrol engine that works as a generator to charge the battery, which then powers an electric motor.

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Plug-in hybrid technology will come from Mitsubishi, who is widely accepted as a market leader in the field. Unlike rivals, Mitsubishi has already managed to tweak its Outlander PHEV to produce figures below 50g/km CO2 under the tougher WLTP testing regime – and it’s expected that the new Qashqai will offer similar figures.

• Best hybrid cars on the market

“We’re investigating the ePower technology for Europe,” explained Pandikuthira. “The biggest difference when you do these onboard generator vehicles is highway driving – in Japan, they typically don’t go above 50-65mph.

“Here in Europe, you do 80-85mph on a regular basis. At those speeds, you end up depleting the battery very quickly, so the range extender has to work really hard to keep the energy going and then it goes out of its range of efficiency.”

However, Pandikuthira wasn’t convinced about the benefits of plug-in hybrids. He told us: “We’re not pursuing a big plug-in hybrid strategy. On some car lines we’ll try it out, but the business case for plug-in hybrids is not very good. For us, it’s a bridge technology for the next two to four years until battery costs drop to the point where the variable costs of making full EVs prevail.”

With two hybrid models planned for the next Qashqai, insiders have hinted that it’s likely to spell the end of diesel power in Nissan’s SUV. Sales of new diesel cars dropped by almost 32 percent in 2018 – and this trend continued into 2019, with new diesel vehicles declining in popularity by a further 28 percent.

The next-generation Qashqai will feature more technology, with updates to Nissan’s ProPilot autonomous driving systems and added connectivity features. Styling-wise, the SUV will adopt a revolutionary new design, previewed by our images. However, it won’t get any larger, with Pandikuthira saying: “You’ll notice with [the last] Qashqai, we left it at 4.4 metres. We didn’t grow it into a big, bloated vehicle.”

Now read all the latest news on Nissan’s all-electric Ariya concept here… 

Get the latest electric car news, reviews and analysis on DrivingElectric.com

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