Nissan, after spending boatloads of money on R&D for the upcoming all-electric Leaf, is also planning big things for the hybrid market. They’ve announced today that they plan to double the mileage on the hybrid version of their Infiniti M sedan (also called the Nissan Fuga), which is expected to come out late this year.
Nissan’s previous hybrid, the Altima, was based on technology that they leased from Toyota. This time around, Nissan is going their own way. They’ve developed a a one-motor, two clutch system that they claim will keep costs down plus deliver better fuel economy than Toyota’s two-motor, “series-parallel” system. Nissan’s second clutch will eliminate friction from the gas engine by disconnecting it entirely from the drive chain while the car is running solely from its batteries or while decelerating. They’ve also enhanced the engine control system to allow the gas engine to be stopped more frequently during city driving. Nissan’s tests showed that in city driving, the gasoline engine was off for almost 50% of the driving time. To lower weight, the new hybrids will use lithium-ion batteries similar to the ones that will be used on the Leaf.
While Nissan hasn’t announced any further models around their two clutch hybrid system, they say that they are looking to expand the use of their new technology. Plus they’re also looking to increase mpg and cut CO2 emissions across a wide range of their vehicles – they’re working on new 3 and 4 cylinder non-hybrid gasoline engines that will use stop-and-start technology (the engine shuts off when the car’s stopped at a red light).