Mike Stevens | Oct 27, 2010

It may have been well beaten to market by traditional rival Toyota, but Nissan is now pushing full-steam ahead with its hybrid and electric vehicle plans.

Following confirmation last month that it will launch a second electric vehicle in 2013 as part of its Infiniti luxury line-up, Nissan has this week unveiled the petrol-electric hybrid version of its Fuga family car in Japan.

To be sold in the US as the Infiniti M35h - one of the models likely to appear in Australia when the brand eventually returns to our shores - the Fuga hybrid enters Nissan's Japan-market line-up as the brand's range-topping model.

Powered by a pairing of Nissan's 3.5 litre 225kW/350Nm V6 petrol engine and an electric motor, the Fuga hybrid utilises a seven-speed automatic transmission with a two-clutch parallel hybrid system, eliminating the need for a torque converter.

With energy for the electric motor drawn from an NEC-supplied lithium-ion battery pack (rather than the nickel metal hydride batteries of the Toyota Prius), the Fuga hybrid lists fuel consumption figures of just 5.2 l/100km - bettering the similar-sized Toyota Hybrid Camry.



Nissan Australia has in recent years steered away from the larger rear-wheel-drive models offered in the Japanese market - opting instead for the front-wheel-drive Maxima (Teana in Japan) rather than the Skyline or the larger and more luxurious Fuga.

If the Fuga hybrid does eventually make its way to Australia, it will likely be as part of the Infiniti line-up.

Nissan's Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga has confirmed that the carmaker is working on smaller hybrid models, suggesting Nissan Australia may someday offer a hybrid version of its new Micra light car, or perhaps of the next-generation Tiida small car.

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