2012 Nissan 370Z Hybrid: Fact, Fiction, Or Wishful Thinking?

May 13, 2009
2009 Nissan 370Z NISMO

2009 Nissan 370Z NISMO

Will Nissan end the fear of “performance hybrids” and offer the 370Z as one?

TheCarConnection.com first heard the rumor of a hybrid Z many months ago, but it’s persisting. Last week, the enthusiast site 370Z.com, citing Japanese sources, reported that Nissan is indeed working on a 370Z hybrid, with the same system that would first emerge in the next-generation M sedan (now the M35/M45) for 2011.

Nissan has for several years been working on a new full-hybrid system for its FM platform, and the automaker has even shown the system in a G35 sedan test mule. It is the first hybrid system Nissan has developed completely in-house, and it follows an arrangement employing two clutches to take the place of the torque converter for a seven-speed automatic transmission, allowing operation on electric power only at lower speeds. The new arrangement might also employ a new lightweight lithium-ion battery pack developed with NEC.

What we’re wondering is how it all adds up, or how a pricey lithium-ion system would fit with the 370Z’s reputation of being a great performance value. And although we’re eagerly anticipating this hybrid system—and its slightly improved performance—in Infiniti’s luxury models, we haven’t heard any official indications that it would be installed in a sports car.

In fact, TheCarConnection.com was recently told by Nissan North America officials that there just isn’t a business case for performance hybrids...which throws this whole idea of a 370Z hybrid in a wishful-thinking limbo at this time, considering how far off it still is. For several years—ever since Honda’s Accord Hybrid failed to catch on, and the Lexus GS450h hasn't been a resounding success—automakers have been wary of marketing hybrids as performance upgrades.

Has the market for hybrids already changed? Are buyers ready for a performance one? Will sports car buyers have new priorities in 2012? Discuss!

[370Z.com via CNET]

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