Nissan Fuga Hybrid
Nissan is introducing a new hybrid sedan for sale in Japan. The Nissan Fuga Hybrid is a full-size luxury sedan, not a mid-size, mid-price like the Nissan Altima Hybrid.
The Fuga Hybrid goes on sale in Japan in November 2010, and is due to arrive arrive in North America in 2011 as a 2012 model, re-badged as the Infiniti M Hybrid. That gives Nissan/Infiniti one model year to tinker and refine it even further before shipping it across the Pacific.
This is the first Nissan or Infiniti hybrid to be developed in-house. The Altima uses hybrid technology leased from Toyota, which bought Nissan time to develop its own.
The new Fuga Hybrid uses a high-output lithium-ion battery pack. That's standard in hybrids these days. But there are other revolutionary features, such as a seven-speed transmission with a manual shift mode. The only other manual hybrid on the market now is the 2011 Honda CR-Z, which is available either as an automatic or a manual, not both in one tranny.
Also what makes the Fuga/M unusual is that the electric motor and Nissan's well-regarded 3.5 liter V-6 engine are connected directly to the transmission without the use of a traditional torque converter. And, there's a dual-clutch system. Since one of the two clutches disconnects the motor from the engine, Nissan says the vehicle is extra quiet and extra efficient in EV mode.
Super-quiet operation can be a problem for pedestrians who can't hear a car that's not making any sounds. So, Nissan has added something called AVSP -- approaching vehicle sound for pedestrians -- which adds the sound of the car starting any time the car slows to under 20 mph. Nissan also has added a beeping sound when the Fuga Hybrid is in reverse.
The new Nissan Fuga Hybrid is priced at around six million. Yen, that is. In dollars, that's around $75,000.