2010 Nissan Fuga Hybrid - click above for high-res image gallery

After several years of selling small volumes of its Altima sedan using Toyota's hybrid drive system, Nissan is finally ready to roll out its first gas-electric model using technology developed in-house. The first model to be so equipped will be the new Fuga sedan, a car sold in North America as the Infiniti M.

Unlike the electronic CVT systems used by Toyota, Ford and General Motors, Nissan has opted to configure their system using a conventional automatic transmission – in this case, a seven-speed unit. The electric drive is provided by a single motor sandwiched between the engine and the transmission. A pair of electronically controlled clutches sit on either side of the motor allowing the engine or the engine/motor combination to be completely de-coupled from the transmission.

According to Nissan, the motor has an output of 50 kW (67 horsepower) and 270 Nm (200 pound-feet) of torque and the system is able to propel the Fuga/M electrically at speeds of up 62 mph. The engine is a 3.5-liter version of Nissan's renowned VQ V6 modified to run with an Atkinson cycle for greater efficiency.

Koichi Hayasaki, senior manager of Nissan's hybrid program tells us that the final numbers on the engine output as well as the net combined output won't be released until sometime in 2010. As is the way these days, energy storage needs are handled by a lithium ion battery pack using the same kind of modules that are going into the LEAF EV.

The Infiniti M hybrid is expected to arrive in the U.S. sometime in 2011 as a 2012 model.

Photos copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.

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