Nissan Pure Drive Hybrid SystemAt the SAE World Congress in Detroit this week, Nissan brought the guts of its new Pure Drive Hybrid System, a four-cylinder gas engine and 15-kW electric motor that has two clutches. The clutches on either side of the motor allows the system to use the motor for propulsion or regeneration and also result in a compact size, about the same as a conventional CVT, we were told. The system also uses a 144-volt lithium-ion battery.

As we learned in New York a few weeks ago, the first vehicle to use this motor will be the 2104 Pathfinder. The hybrid powertrain will give the Pathfinder stop-start (which Nissan calls idle stop and which is also available on the European Note, for example) and will be able to coast at highway speeds and will ever-so-gently be able to creep on battery power, for a limited distance. The electric parts help increase the Pathfinder's estimated highway mileage from 24 to 27 miles per gallon, while city numbers jump from 19 to 25. The new Pathfinder Hybrid will be available later this summer for around a $3,000 price premium. Despite a lower peak horsepower, the hybrid will offer comparable performance to the Pathfinder with a V6 engine. The hybrid gets 250 horsepower, while the conventional V6 gets 260, but the torque band and hp for the hybrid are higher over most of the range. The hybrid setup will also be used in the Infiniti QX60 Hybrid (what used to be called the JX) and who knows what else after that.