July 27, 2009

Nissan To Develop Smaller Hybrid Cars

A top executive at Nissan Motor Co. said on Monday the company is developing a hybrid system that can be used to power smaller cars as an interim solution to improving mileage before pure electric cars become the standard, Reuters reported.

While Nissan has yet to make a final decision about actually offering small and mid-sized hybrid vehicles, Executive Vice President Mitsuhiko Yamashita said the technology may be necessary for consumers who need fuel-efficient, all-purpose cars that have the same driving range as conventional gasoline or diesel cars.

Yamashita, who heads research and development at Nissan, told Reuters the best option would be for zero-emission electric vehicles to cover all needs, but that was likely to take a while.

With hybrid pioneers Toyota and Honda leading in the zero-emission electric vehicle (EV) field, Nissan has been looking to close the image gap in environmentally friendly technology and a mass rollout of hybrid cars would signal a major shift in strategy for Japan's no.3 automaker.

Nissan has been slow to adopt the widely popular gasoline-electric hybrids technology and only recently announced plans for next year to mount its internally developed hybrid system on low-volume, high-end cars such as the Fuga sedan and Infiniti models.

Nissan has planned to reduce its overall carbon dioxide emissions with improvements to its engines and transmissions, and through vehicle weight reduction.

However, Nissan had plans in 2011 to launch a hybrid version of its Serena minivan, its top-selling model in Japan, according to a report this month in The Nikkei business daily.

But the company later said it has no official plans beyond the launch of the luxury hybrids.

Citing research showing more than 80 percent of drivers travel less than 62 miles a day, Nissan has long argued that zero-emission electric vehicles, while limited in range on one charge, are sufficient for daily use.

On a full charge, Nissan's first mass-volume electric car will have a range of 100 miles -- less than half of a typical internal combustion engine vehicle.

August 2 will mark Nissan's debut of the five-seater EV with an all-new design that a source said would resemble a hatchback.

Nissan's EV will offer virtually instant acceleration and a quiet ride, and can be charged in eight hours using a 200-volt power source and double that with 100 volts.

Nissan wants to be the first automaker along with French partner Renault SA to mass-market EVs.

The company is planning a partial introduction in Japan and the United States in 2010. A global rollout with two other models is due in 2012.


Image Courtesy Of Nissan


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