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Nissan Successful in Powertrain Conversion Challenge

Nissan happy it has won a race against time to redesign its powertrain concept…

Photo: Marc Calvo

Nissan e.dams is satisfied it has successfully come through a race against time to adapt and develop its new powertrain concept for the coming ABB FIA Formula E Championship season.

The championship’s only Japanese manufacturer had to change its philosophy on its technical setup over the summer after twin-MGU designs were outlawed by the FIA for the 2019-20 season.

This came after last season’s political and technical cause célèbre saw Nissan e.dams having to drop its initial concept of utilizing two MGUs within its innovative design.

The changes, which were rubber-stamped just before the Bern E-Prix last June, left Nissan e.dams with a significant adaptation to test and develop a single-MGU solution in readiness for the coming season.

“From the powertrain side, the most critical thing for us was the amount of time available,” Nissan global motorsports director Michael Carcamo told e-racing365 in Valencia last week.

“I would say the timing and the milestone management was for us, the first step. Because we knew we couldn’t develop a new powertrain, that was impossible.

“So, we needed to take the best components of what we had and repackage them. And that’s what the team did, again I think flawlessly.”

E-racing365 understands that Nissan e.dams has not yet used all of its 15 allocated testing days but that, due to its official launch event at Nissan’s Yokohama headquarters on Tuesday, it will be unable to carry out any more extensive testing.

“The window did help for sure, but at some point, it is even difficult to fit it all in, because the cars have to get packed up and shipped,” said Carcamo.

Strong Powertrain Concept Helps Achieve Adaptation

Both Sebastien Buemi and Oliver Rowland completed extensive lap counts during the three days of testing at Valencia’s Circuit Ricardo Tormo last week.

Buemi won the second trial event on Friday afternoon and went on to set the sixth fastest time overall, while teammate Oliver Rowland posted the ninth quickest time.

Nissan e.dams team manager Francois Sicard paid tribute to the team for its work during the off-season, describing the shake-out of last June’s FIA decision and the subsequent adaptation of the powertrain as having “run pretty smoothly”,.

“We have the good concept from Nissan, so for sure, we have some fine-tuning to do, some adjustment, but to be honest, at the moment, we are pretty happy with the level of development we have already achieved,” said Sicard.

“It was not an easy task and to take up the challenge was really something. But everybody from Nissan and from e.dams worked very hard to make it happen and so far it [has] run pretty smoothly, so we are already looking really at the performance.

“Normally we are more focused on finding and solving reliability issues, but it looks like [that stage] is already behind us, which we were not expecting, so at the moment [we are] really positive and really happy with the situation.”

The specific details of Nissan’s 2018-19 powertrain setup were never made public but it is believed it utilized a complex application of power which, although having been homologated by the FIA, some rivals felt was not in at least ‘the spirit’ of what was commonly accepted in the championship’s technical regulations.

The modified package has therefore been developed around harnessing increased efficiency through one MGU and has again been led by technical director Vincent Gaillardot, who led the engineering team that was responsible for Renault e.dams’ run of four titles in four years from 2014-17.

“Maybe the biggest insider change of mindset from the team in terms of performance is where, if in season five was focussed on an advantage that was more on acceleration, now we have to switch to purely efficiency,” said Carcamo.

“So, where any control system, anything we had developed was focussed on one attribute, now that attribute has changed, which is similar to everyone else, but that’s where we had placed our focus [on].”

Nissan is officially unveiling its 2019-20 livery and launching the entry in Yokohama, Japan later this week.

Sam Smith is e-racing365's Formula E Editor. A 20-year veteran in motorsports media, including press officer roles in both the FIA Sportscar Championship and at Lola Group, Smith is a well-known face in the Formula E paddock, where he served as series editor for Motorsport.com from 2014-17. Contact Sam

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