After two years of using Toyota techology in a hybrid version of the Altima, Nissan is developing prototypes entirely on its own that signal their impending entrance into hybrid competition with the big boys. Finding previously untapped Hybrid consumers is a bit of a challenge for automakers, but Nissan is hoping to attract customers by offering a luxury rear-wheel-drive hybrid.
The first is a new hybrid system that will be introduced on a rear-wheel-drive Infiniti from their G class of cars. It employs a parallel hybrid system with one electric motor and two clutches that allows the gas engine and electric motor to power the vehicle at the same time. When accelerating, Nissan’s new hybrid uses both the gas engine and the electric motor, so both clutches are engaged. That’s the first of the system’s four operating modes. At low speeds, the electric motor does all the work. At higher city and highway cruising speeds, the gas engine engages and both clutches are engaged with the rear clutch directing power from the electric motor back into the battery pack to help replenish its juice. The fourth mode is when the car is braking. At that point the gas engine and front clutch shut down, and the heat from braking the rear wheels generates electricity that is redirected through the rear clutch and into the battery pack.
Nissan’s new hybrid will be one of the first to use lithium-ion rather than nickel-metal hydride batteries. (Assuming Hyundai doesn’t beat them to the punch with the new Hybrid Sonata) These batteries are smaller and more efficient than previous generations of hybrid batteries. The hybrid will otherwise use existing gas-electric technology, only with a more powerful V-6 engine. Remember the Accord Hybrid? This would appear to be another attempt to add hybrid technology for the sake of performance and not mpg.
Specific details are limited, but Nissan says that the system is more powerful than a standard 306-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, but not as powerful as Nissan’s 390-hp 5.0-liter V8. An estimate for 0-60 times should be in the 5 and 1/2 second range. As far as fuel economy, speculations are that 24 mpg in the city and almost 34 mpg on the highway are attainable with this system in a G35 sedan-size vehicle.