Nissan put the new Serena S-Hybrid on sale in Japan recently and now we're learning a bit more about how "smart" and "simple" the hybrid powertrain is. Nissan proudly emphasized those aspects of the powertrain when it first talked about the details of the new minivan, and now we learn that the electric part of the powertrain is used mostly to ... power the tail lights?

Nissan's official statement on the subject says the Serena S-Hybrid is equipped with "a simple and compact hybrid system. It mounts an upgraded version of the ECO motor used in the existing Serena, and serves as an auxiliary motor to increase power output and power generation capabilities."

Automotive News says the the Serena's S-Hybrid regenerative braking system mostly converts kinetic energy into electricity to power the minivan's electrical systems, like the taillights, and thus lets the engine operate in a more efficient manner. The end result? Improved fuel economy of up to 10 percent, or around $1,900.

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