Nissan has just introduced its latest electric vehicle in the form of the Note e-POWER, a series hybrid that gets its electricity from a 1.2-liter gasoline three-cylinder that's also used in the current Nissan March/Micra subcompact. AutoEvolution reports that the car will return 87.4 miles per gallon, though that's on the Japanese test cycle, which typically produces higher numbers than the US cycle. For example, the previous generation Toyota Prius was rated at 76.4 miles per gallon on the Japanese test cycle, and in the US, the best it was rated for was 51 mpg in the city.

What's interesting about this Note e-POWER is that, despite effectively being an electric car with a gas generator, it doesn't have the option of being charged – it has no plug-in port. Instead, it relies entirely on the engine for electricity. While this may seem odd in a world where plug-in hybrids like the Volt and the Prius Prime exist, as well as the range-extended BMW i3, this Note doesn't have much battery to charge anyway. The battery pack in this car is 1/20 the size of that in the Leaf. The main advantage here is that the battery doesn't intrude on interior space, since it's neatly packaged underneath the front seats.

A spokesperson for Nissan told us that the Note e-POWER is currently only for Japan, and the car was specifically designed for that region and urban driving habits. However, she said that the possibility of the car coming to other markets wasn't ruled out. She also said that the technology could be adapted for other segments and markets. So perhaps we'll see a similarly powered vehicle in the US, possibly with a bigger, chargeable battery to compete with the plug-ins from Toyota and Chevrolet. Maybe the next-generation Leaf will get better batteries and a range extender option. With a long electric range and a back-up engine, it could be a compelling car, even with the Chevy Bolt arriving soon.

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