By now, many of you know that the Juke is close to being replaced in the Philippine market. We won't get the new generation Juke because it's meant for Europe primarily; that's been confirmed by Nissan already. Instead what we will get is the Kicks, and we base that on the information we've been getting from several Nissan executives.
But there is another matter that needs to be resolved. While Nissan has confirmed the launch of the Leaf EV in the Philippines for 2020 (likely to be delayed by the current pandemic, of course), what about e-Power?
Globally, Nissan has been promoting the potential of its e-Power technology, and it seems to be the more logical fit for markets that haven't had widespread success yet with full-electric vehicles (i.e. ours) because it requires no special charging stations. Instead, e-Power uses an internal combustion engine as a generator unit to charge up the batteries, allowing the electric drive system to propel the vehicle forward. It's a hybrid system but unlike the one in the Prius, the engine plays no direct part in driving the wheels.
Nissan has, in the past, dropped hints that e-Power will be instrumental in their electrification strategy in South East Asia, and now that seems to be getting closer to fruition. Our friends over at the Thai automotive website Headlightmag.com have found a document stating that Nissan intends to manufacture vehicles there with the e-Power drive system.
The document (translated from Thai by Google and cleaned up) from Thailand's Board of Investment states:
Nissan Motor (Thailand) Company Limited expands the production of hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) and batteries for EV electric vehicles with a total investment of THB 10.96 billion baht. The factory is located in Bang Sao Thong District, Samut Prakan Province.
The company plans to use raw materials in the country worth THB 15.92 billion per year in the production of e-Power hybrid electric vehicles which was previously only made in Japan. The technology is considered to be at the core to change automotive technology from the current engine system to an electric drive.
The intention of Nissan to start manufacturing the e-Power in Thailand is important because it means they can supply the ASEAN markets (ours included) at competitive prices due to the free trade area. This is actually in line with what Nissan Regional Senior Vice President Yutaka Sanada said to AutoIndustriya a while back, confirming that e-Power is coming to South East Asia.
Now here is where it gets conflicting: the Thai BOI document did not indicate what vehicle will actually get the e-Power system. According to Headlightmag, the vehicle will likely be the new Kicks e-Power; that makes sense given that the ASEAN market (and ours, specifically) responds very well to crossovers of all shapes and sizes.
But according to another inside source from Thailand, the model could be the Sylphy e-Power; the next-generation version of Nissan's compact car. That would be very interesting indeed given that Toyota has just started selling the Thai-made Corolla Altis Hybrid, and a Sylphy e-Power is a direct competitor in terms of size and drivetrain.
As to what the e-Power model will actually be made by Nissan in Thailand is still unclear, but hopefully, we won't have to wait long to find out.