2013 has been a great year for pure electric vehicles. Nissan in particular has been making headlines left and right with their new and improved, but somehow cheaper Nissan Leaf. But, the Leaf isn’t the only development that Nissan has up its sleeve. Last week at the SAE 2013 Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Technology Symposium (let’s just call it the HEVTS), Senior Engineer for Nissan’s Zero Emissions Research Group, Owen Thunes, gave a detailed presentation on the Japanese car brand’s current hybrid developments.
More specifically, Thunes spoke about Nissan’s future flagship hybrid system, the FF-Hybrid. FF stands for front-engine (where the hybrid system is located), front-wheel drive. For those of you who aren’t up to date on Nissan’s hybrid lineup, the FF-Hybrid is to succeed the FR-Hybrid currently used in the Infiniti M luxury sedan. And yes, you guessed it – FR stands for front-engine, rear-wheel drive.
There are some similarities between the current FR-Hybrid and the upcoming FF-Hybrid, however there are also some very key differences. Let’s start with the similarities
What’s Nissan Keeping for the FF-Hybrid?
First, Nissan intends to keep the Intelligent Dual Clutch System used in the FR-Hybrid, which uses one motor integrated with two different clutches. Nissan feels that the current system is more than adequate.
Second, Nissan still maintains the same overall goals with their new FF-Hybrid powertrain. Thunes said that they’re still focusing on affordability, fuel efficiency, improved technology, and space preservation. They’re just moving closer to these goals with the new Hybrid System.
What’s Nissan Changing for the FF-Hybrid?
Technologically speaking, there are numerous improvements. We’ll get to those in a moment.
First, if there were one overarching difference to define Nissan’s new hybrid system, it would be accessibility. Instead of only being used by their Infiniti marquee, the FF-Hybrid is designed for usability in virtually any vehicle in Nissan’s lineup. While the system is configured for front-wheel drive by default, Thunes tells us that it could be configured for all-wheel drive vehicles and even pure electric vehicles. In other words, the FF-Hybrid will make hybrid powertrains available in much more of both Nissan’s and Infiniti’s lineup.
Now, as far as technology goes, Thunes segregates the improvements into three broad categories – a smaller combustion engine, a more efficient transmission, and a more-powerful-but-more-compact Lithium-ion battery. Thunes says, “There is an efficiency gain due to downsizing at low load and middle speed driving while still retaining abundant torque in the high load driving. Overall fuel economy is improved in a wide range.”
In other words, the 2.5L-based FF-Hybrid System will be smaller, more efficient, and just as powerful as its 3.5L-based predecessor.
If you’d like to learn more about Nissan’s new FF-Hybrid System, check out their short 3 minute video detailing how the FF system works and why it’s better.
Even though this new hybrid system from Nissan looks formidable, only time will tell whether or not it will be enough to seriously compete with Toyota. What do you think? Would you drive the FF-Hybrid System? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below:
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