Nissan Motor Co. has ambitious goals for its first hybrid car. It has set a goal to nearly double its mileage compared to the gasoline engine version. It also aims to cut costs using a simple, single-motor system.
Later this year, Nissan is expected to launch the Fuga, a gasoline-electric Infiniti M sedan, in Japan. It lags behind its strongest rivals (Toyota Motor and Honda Motor) by over a decade in producing a proprietary hybrid model.
Despite the late start, Nissan claims that its one-motor, two-clutch system results to a much better fuel economy and with much lower technical cost compared with Toyota's complex, two-motor "series parallel" system.
Koichi Hayasaki, chief engineer of Nissan's rear-wheel-drive hybrid system, said that other carmakers consider the fuel economy improvement on their cars using a 'strong' or 'full' hybrid system to be about 30%, while its 15% for a 'mild' hybrid. However, Nissan aims for a 60% to 90% improvement. Hayasaki added that this means that the hybrid Infiniti M would have mileage similar to that of a compact car.
The structure of Nissan's hybrid system is comparable to that of Volkswagen AG's. It mounts an extra clutch that separates the electric motor from the engine to enable driving using only electric power when the battery is charged.
Hayasaki added that Nissan's exclusive system enables it to better control the motor by using a lithium-ion battery rather than a nickel-metal hydride, which is slower in capturing and discharging energy.
When a lithium-ion battery is used, it eliminates the need for a torque converter, which is used in VW's Touareg SUV, Porsche Cayenne and other hybrids.[via autonews - sub. required]