When it comes to sustainable mobility – including electric vehicles and gasoline/electric hybrid systems, Nissan is known for its innovative approach. The company’s “one-motor, two-clutch” gasoline/electric powertrain parallel hybrid system made its production debut in the United States in spring 2011 in the rear-wheel drive Infiniti M Hybrid – a vehicle delivering more than 350 horsepower and 30 miles per gallon (9.4 l/100km) fuel efficiency.
Now Nissan has adapted its advanced Intelligent Dual Clutch System to create a new front-wheel/four-wheel drive hybrid system that will debut in the U.S. in late summer 2013 in the fourth-generation Nissan Pathfinder SUV. While the high performance hybrid system utilized in the premium Infiniti M Hybrid is highly appropriate to a luxury sports sedan, the new Pathfinder’s hybrid system is designed to provide milder performance and fuel economy gains.
Three key elements are critical to the design of the new hybrid system, all of which are already available in the Nissan technology catalog:
- A range of downsized internal combustion engines, such as the new Pathfinder Hybrid’s 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder – which has been fitted with a Roots-type supercharger to give it total horsepower (250 hp with HEV system) and torque (243 lb-ft, 330 Nm) similar to the non-hybrid Pathfinder’s standard 3.5-liter V6.
- An advanced Xtronic CVT® (Continuously Variable Transmission) that maximizes engine operating efficiency with both the gasoline engine and electric motor compared to a fixed gear ratio transmission. Nissan’s industry leadership in CVT design includes the latest generation Xtronic CVT®, used in all Pathfinder models, that features greatly reduced internal friction, a wider ratio coverage than most automatic transmissions, and compact size – allowing the Pathfinder’s CVT and integrated motor-clutch configuration fit in the same space as the conventional vehicle’s transmission.
- And finally, a compact Li-ion battery system that is both powerful and easily configurable for a variety of applications so as not to intrude into the passenger or cargo areas. For use in the new Pathfinder Hybrid, the battery fits compactly under the 3rd row passenger seat, so there is no difference in passenger or cargo volume versus the conventional Pathfinder models.
The New Nissan FF-Hybrid System in Detail
Compact and adaptable to vehicles of any size, the new FF-Hybrid powertrain achieves smooth and direct acceleration, excellent fuel economy and it significantly narrows the price premium over conventional internal combustion engines.
As with the FR-Hybrid, the FF-Hybrid utilizes the unique one-motor, two-clutch configuration known as the Nissan Intelligent Dual Clutch System. The electric motor is linked with a Lithium-ion battery. Positioned between the gasoline engine and the Xtronic CVT® (where the torque converter would normally be), the motor also functions as a generator, conveying energy from the CVT to the battery upon deceleration. As for the two clutches, one is installed between the gasoline engine and the electric motor, the other between the motor and the CVT.
When both clutches are engaged, the engine and electric motor connect directly to the CVT, allowing the electric motor to augment torque from the engine as required. This creates the potential for powerful acceleration.
The high input/output Li-ion battery is automatically topped up by regenerative power from the brakes by converting the vehicle’s kinetic energy otherwise lost in braking.
Pairing this battery with a smaller engine than conventional gasoline vehicles, closely integrated with an electric motor and CVT, results in a highly compact and cost-effective package that can be adapted for use in a range of applications.
Nissan Pathfinder hybrid 2014 technical data
|Engine:||Pure Drive Hybrid with 2.5-liter 16-valve supercharged inline 4-cylinder engine and 15 kW electric motor, rated at 250 net horsepower and 330 Nm of torque|
|Hybrid Control:||Nissan Intelligent Dual Clutch system (one motor / two clutch parallel system)|
|Transmission:||Next-gen Xtronic CVT® (Continuously Variable Transmission)|
|Fuel Economy (est.)||25 mpg City (11.3 l/100km), 27 mpg Highway (10.5 l/100km), 26 mpg Combined (10.9 l/100km)|
|Driving Range (est.)||526 miles – 846 km (estimated maximum)|
|Drive Configuration:||Front engine, front-wheel drive or intuitive 4-wheel drive|
|Wheels/Tires:||18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with 235/65R18 all-season tiresAvailable 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with 235/55R20 size tires|
|Suspension:||Independent front strut, independent rear multi-link, front and rear stabilizer bars|
|Braking:||Regenerative, power-assisted 4-wheel vented disc brakes|
|Steering:||Vehicle-speed-sensitive power steering|
|Towing Capacity:||3,500 pounds|
|Coefficient of drag:||0.34|