We’ve already heard about the rumors buzzing about the true range of Nissan’s first production electric-only vehicle, the forthcoming 2012 Leaf. Now, Nissan claims its first hybrid model developed in-house will achieve twice the gas mileage of its gas-powered stablemate when it’s launched later this year. Is it all hype?
Not necessarily. The planned Japan-market Nissan Fuga hybrid, which we’ll see as the Infiniti M35 Hybrid, is not Nissan’s first hybrid — that distinction goes to the Altima Hybrid. Unlike the Altima’s system, which was developed from existing Toyota technology, the new hybrid system is more technologically advanced, yet much less complex than the current framework.
The new system is a dual-clutch setup paired with a lithium-ion battery, effectively eliminating the need for a torque converter. According to Nissan, the technology took six years to develop, and will deliver between 60 to 90 percent better fuel economy than the standard M sedans.
“It was a technical hurdle that most hybrid engineers in the industry believed could not be cleared,” said Koichi Hayasaki, chief engineer of Nissan’s rear-wheel-drive hybrid system.
In addition to being less technically complicated than Toyota’s system, Nissan’s single-motor setup is reportedly close to 70 pounds lighter than Toyota’s double-motor system. The current rear-wheel-drive M37 and M56 deliver 18/26 mpg (city/highway) and 16/25, respectively.
The news of a Nissan-developed hybrid is particularly interesting for a company whose CEO all but swore off hybrids not long ago. What do you think? Can a hybrid M deliver gas mileage like an economy car?