Nissan aims to almost double the fuel economy of its new Infiniti M luxury sedan with a hybrid version due out in 2012. Engineers at the Japanese automaker have been working hard on a new type of hybrid system for half a decade, preparing it for use in the upcoming M35 Hybrid.
The new setup uses one electric motor and two clutches, making it far less complex than Toyota’s current setup and also much cheaper. According to Nissan’s top rear-wheel drive hybrid engineer Koichi Hayasaki, the company’s new hybrid system does away with the need for a torque converter by using a lithium ion battery and the two-clutch setup – something he says other automakers believed was a hurdle that couldn’t be cleared.
As a result, “We’re aiming for an improvement of 60 to 90 percent,” he said, a significant improvement over the 30 percent improvement produced by full hybrid systems like Toyota’s or the 15 percent improvement by mild hybrid systems like Honda’s.
Another benefit of Nissan’s simpler hybrid system is its weight. The less complex system is not only cheaper but should come in at roughly 66 lbs less than a comparable Toyota setup.
Currently the new Infiniti M37 is rated at 18/26-mpg (city/highway).