PARIS -- Renault-Nissan's new gasoline-electric hybrid technology would be competitive in Europe, CEO Carlos Ghosn said, as carmakers turn away from diesel for smaller vehicles.
The "e-Power" transmission, announced a day earlier by Renault's alliance partner Nissan for the Note subcompact car in Japan, amounts to an electric vehicle powered by a small gasoline generator instead of a large battery.
Carmakers are racing into electrification as Volkswagen's emissions test-cheating scandal hastens diesel's decline and stiffens regulatory resolve. Renault and Toyota are among those signalling a faster retreat from diesel in small cars.
Although not emissions-free, e-Power's smaller battery makes it significantly cheaper than electric-only cars and never needs recharging. Fuel economy figures suggest that the carbon dioxide output compares well with traditional hybrid minis such as the Toyota Yaris.
"It's definitely cost-competitive with diesel," Ghosn said, adding that the new technology "absolutely" would be viable for the European mass-market. Ghosn, who heads both carmakers, was speaking to Reuters on Thursday at the New York Times Energy for Tomorrow conference in Paris.
A Nissan spokeswoman said: "There are no current plans for e-Power in Europe. But the technology can be adapted to other markets and (vehicle categories), so we wouldn't rule it out."
Renault-Nissan is not alone in using combustion engine generators to power electric cars.