Electric Vehicles

Everything you need to know about Nissan e-4ORCE all-wheel drive technology

Look for Nissan's new all-wheel drive technology to come to the U.S. soon.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Leaf is one of the best-selling electric vehicles on the planet. But since it was introduced in 2010, a lot has changed. The EV landscape isn't as stodgy as it used to be. Buyers are seeking range, engaging drive dynamics, and assured footing. New technology from Nissan, called e-4ORCE, raises the bar for the automaker on much of what the modern EV audience is seeking.

How does it work? Which vehicles will it be applied to? When is it coming to market? Scroll down to learn everything you need to know about Nissan e-4ORCE.

It's pronounced "force".

Nissan says that they choose the moniker because "4" represents driving that is powered by all four wheels.

The technology is basically electronic all-wheel drive.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

All-wheel drive and four-wheel drive aren't the same thing, despite their names giving you the impression that they likely are. All-wheel drive is optimized for on-road use while four-wheel drive is designed to take on more challenging drive situations in addition to driving on the street.

It consists of not one, but two electric motors.

Until now, Nissan EVs have all used a single electric motor, typically for front-wheel drive. This new system uses two electric motors.

It delivers "instant torque" but it's not like Tesla's Ludacrous mode.

Nissan claims that the car's system allows for each wheel to receive "instant torque". This isn't unusual with electric vehicles.

The company says that the system will strike a, "balance between powerful performance and unprecedented control – delivering excitement at the push of the accelerator while still ensuring comfort for everyone in the car." In other words, don't expect to be thrown back in your seat.

Nissan relays that where the technology shines isn't when moving off the line, but rather when the driver has to react to an obstacle in the road. That's when, Nissan says, "The system manages and conveys the driver's intentions and expectations smoothly and efficiently." That reaction by the car to humans input is three times faster than the blink of an eye.

The system defaults to a 50-50 distribution.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

In traditional driving circumstances, the system defaults to a 50-50 power split between the car's front and rear wheels. But, when needed, the system can distribute up to 100 percent of the power to either the front or the back.

It can recapture energy through regenerative braking.

Regenerative braking is important part of maximizing electric vehicle range. The e-4ORCE system is able to manage braking to each wheel, including the ability to take advantage of regenerative braking technology to slow the vehicle. The two technologies are designed to work together to reduce the vehicle's pitch and dive.

The system isn't just about grip.

E-4ORCE is able to stabilize the car while it's moving power to the appropriate wheels. This means that the car shouldn't lean as much as a traditional vehicle when drivers quickly maneuver around obstacles.

We've already seen it in action.

Nissan brought the technology, while it was in development, to the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show and CES.

It's coming in the Ariya.

Nissan Ariya Concept

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Ariya will be Nissan's all-electric SUV. It was teased first as a concept car then last week as one of Nissan's 12 forthcoming models in the next 18 months.

Learn more about the system by watching the video below from Nissan.

Nissan's e-4ORCE technology: enhancing EV driving performance www.youtube.com

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Production of the Volkswagen ID.4 will mark the automaker's first all-electric SUV launch. The ID.4 will have about 310 miles of range, depending on the drive package.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen is investing heavily into electric vehicles (EVs), even in the U.S. where the models make up a smidgeon of the sales each year. The company has already begun expanding its Chattanooga, Tennessee factory to build a North American center for the engineering and assembly of EVs.

That doesn't mean that they're just working on cars. They're working on the design of the "things" that go into cars as well. Much of this will happen at the Engineering and Planning Center (EPC) in Chattanooga. Breaking ground on the center is set to happen soon with the expectation of it being fully operational by spring 2021.

Volkswagen Chattanooga plant Volkswagen is investing $800 million and adding 1,000 jobs at its Tennessee plant. Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The EPC will feature a unique, state-of-the-art high-voltage laboratory that is designed to develop and test electric vehicle cells and battery packs. These cells and packs are slated to be assembled in the U.S. before being inserted into vehicles.

"There are two ways that auto companies approach the development of electric vehicle batteries," said Wolfgang Maluche, Vice President of Engineering at Volkswagen of America. "A lot of them will farm out the development and testing of batteries to another company, and some will actually do the work of developing and testing in-house. We are doing the latter."

The lab will include pressure testers, explosion-rated climate chambers and – perhaps the most unique – a custom multi-axis shaker table (MAST), which is designed to test the integrity of vehicle components in some of the roughest conditions they might face on the road.

According to Volkswagen, most automotive labs have MASTs, "but almost none were designed for electric vehicle batteries". EV batteries present their own set of testing challenges because of their size and weight. They typically weight hundreds of pounds each, making them the heaviest component in an EV.

"The battery is not only shaking; it is going through a series of harsh conditions to test its durability in a variety of possible environments, from the South Pole to the Sahara," said Jason Swager, the Director of Electrical Development. "We needed to build a MAST that could withstand the immense force and frequency that we need to test these batteries."

Volkswagen describes the process:

"To run a MAST at such high frequencies, Volkswagen had to design its own tool rather than using an outside supplier. The supports for the MAST will be buried 12 feet under the lab's floor and buttressed with concrete to help withstand the forces in use. Volkswagen's new lab will be only the second location in the country with a MAST of this size."

Volkswagen is building the lab to LEED standards. "This lab was planned to be as sustainable as possible," said Maluche.

The production version of the Volkswagen ID.4 EV is expected to be revealed soon. It will be produced at the factory. The company recently celebrated the 1 millionth vehicle to roll off the line at the plant.

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The Audi E-Tron is being made more affordable.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Longer range, cheaper price. That's the bottom line for the 2021 Audi E-Tron. The all-electric SUV was the first in the E-Tron family to debut and go on sale and the a big step toward the brand's commitment to electrifying 30 percent of its U.S. model lineup by 2025.

Though Audi has revised the model's packages and lowered pricing, it's still pretty much the same SUV. Same fascia, body lines, wheels, brakes, and battery.

About that battery ... Software adjustments have made it so that drivers can now get 222 miles of all-electric range out of the 95 kilowatt-hour battery - an increase of 18 miles. The net energy amount goes up to 86.5 kilowatt-hours, nearly three kilowatt-hours more than the 2019 model.

2021 Audi E-Tron Sportback Audi sells the E-Tron in two varieties: E-Tron SUV and E-Tron Sportback.Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The SUV retains its standard 355 horsepower (it can go up to as much as 402 horsepower with Boost Mode) and can get from zero to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds using Boost Mode.

The all-wheel drive SUV will start at $65,900, an $8,900 dip from the starting MSRP of the 2020 Audi E-Tron. The model trim level lineup tops out at $79,100. A potential federal tax credit for purchasing an Audi E-Tron up to $7,500 may apply. There is a $1,095 destination charge.

The Premium (base) trim level is available with the Convenience Plus Package, which includes the Driver Assistance package and Black exterior trim kit. It comes standard with 20-inch five-spoke wheels; a heated steering wheel; quad-zone climate control; lane departure warning; heated front seats; a power lift gate; Audi Virtual Cockpit Plus; heated, auto-dimming, power-folding exterior mirrors with memory; Homelink; Integrated Toll Module; and comfort pre-conditioning.

The E-Tron Premium Plus grade comes standard with charge ports on both the driver and passenger side of the vehicle. It also gets the Driver Assistance Package; ambient interior lighting; heated and ventilated 12-way power-adjustable front seats; matrix-design LED headlights; 3D Bang & Olufson Sound System; and wireless device charging.

2021 Audi E-Tron Sportback The Audi E-Tron Sportback is more expensive than the traditional E-Tron SUV.Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The highest grade E-Tron Prestige adds a head-up display; individual contour front seats with massage functionality; Full Leather package; multi-color LED interior ambient lighting; dual-pane acoustic glass; an air quality system; power door closers; and rear sunshades.

The E-Tron Sportback, a sloped-roof version of the same SUV, has a higher starting price - $69,100. The E-Tron Sportback Premium Plus is $78,000 and the E-Tron Sportback Prestige is $82,300. It has an EPA-estimated range of 218 miles, has a 5.5-second zero to 60 mph time, and delivers up to 402 horsepower with Boost Mode engaged.

The standard features list for each of the E-Tron Sportback's grades is nearly identical to what is offered in the E-Tron SUV.

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