TOKYO - Two more Japanese carmakers have joined the rush to market hybrid cars.
Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said it has developed a hybrid powertrain that mates an electric motor, Mitsubishi's GDI direct-injection gasoline engine, a turbocharger and a continuously variable transmission.
Mitsubishi plans to introduce the powertrain, known as the GDI Sigma Series, in its cars from 2000.
Separately, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. said it has begun test drives of its Tino Hybrid on public roads and plans to market the car in early 2000.
About 20 prototype cars, all using lithium ion batteries, will be tested in a variety of road situations across Japan.
Mitsubishi's GDI Sigma Series boosts mileage by between 10 and 30 percent compared with current GDI engines. The company expects to produce the hybrid powertrain for around half the cost of Toyota Motor Corp.'s Prius hybrid, because the GDI Sigma uses smaller batteries and a smaller electric motor.
The smaller components are possible in part because the GDI engine kicks in more quickly when starting than normal port-injection engines, thus easing the torque demands on the electric motor when the car starts.
In addition to Toyota, Honda Motor Co. plans to market a hybrid car later this year.