Nissan aims to double mileage for its First Hybrid.

Nissan Motor Co. said it aims to significantly improve and nearly double the mileage on its first hybrid car developed compared with the gasoline-engine version, while keeping costs down with a simple, single-motor system.

Japan's No. 3 automaker is due to launch a gasoline-electric Infiniti M sedan, called Fuga in Japan, late this year.

While admitting to the late start, Nissan said its one-motor, two-clutch system would achieve far better fuel economy, at a much lower technical cost compared with hybrid leader Toyota's complex, two-motor system.

"Typically, carmakers say the fuel economy improvement on their cars using a 'strong' or 'full' hybrid system is roughly 30 percent, while for 'mild' hybrids (like Honda's), it's 15 percent," said Koichi Hayasaki, chief engineer of Nissan's rear-wheel-drive hybrid system.

"We're aiming for an improvement of 60 to 90 percent," he said, adding that the hybrid Infiniti M would have mileage comparable to that of a compact car.

Nissan's hybrid system has a structure similar to that of Volkswagen AG's, mounting an extra clutch that separates the electric motor from the engine to allow for driving using only electric power when the battery is charged.

By having fewer components, Hayasaki said, Nissan's hybrid system was roughly 30 kg (66 lb) lighter than Toyota's series parallel system, which mounts two electric motors and two inverters, which make up the bulk of a hybrid system's cost.

As part of its drive to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from its cars, Nissan is planning to also launch fuel-efficient three- and four-cylinder gasoline engines and stop-and-start technology this business year.

The new March, due for launch in Japan this month, will be the first to use the stop-start feature, which automatically shuts down the engine when the car comes to a brief stop. Nissan, held 43 percent by France's Renault SA, is due to start selling the Leaf full-electric car in Europe starting in December. Its sole hybrid model now is the Altima sedan, which uses Toyota's hybrid system.


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