YOKOHAMA, Japan -- The hybrid version of the Infiniti M luxury sedan, the first car to use Nissan Motor Co.'s in-house hybrid technology, gets twice the fuel economy of the nonhybrid version -- in Japan at least.
The hybrid Infiniti M, which goes on sale Tuesday, Nov. 2, in Japan as the Nissan Fuga, delivers fuel economy of 44.7 mpg, under Japanese testing standards, the company said. The car arrives in the United States next spring as the M35h.
Japan's test cycle favors hybrids because it includes more stop-and-go driving than the U.S. test. So, for U.S. drivers, the hybrid won't double the mpg figure of its gasoline-only counterpart, said Tatsuo Osawa, the Infiniti M's chief product specialist.
He said it would get better fuel economy than the nonhybrid but declined to be specific. The base-model U.S. version of the Infiniti M is rated at 18 mpg in city driving and 26 mpg on the highway.
The car has the long-awaited hybrid system Nissan developed on its own. Nissan, which trails rivals Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. in hybrid sales, sells a hybrid version of the Altima sedan. But it gets that drivetrain from Toyota.
Nissan's system uses a single motor and a double clutch. It can drive for short distances in electric-only mode and use the electric motor to boost power when the engine is running. It runs on a lithium ion battery made by Automotive Energy Supply Corp., the joint venture between Nissan and NEC Corp. that also makes batteries for the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle.
The Infiniti M's hybrid system is teamed with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine and seven-speed automatic transmission. Nissan COO Toshiyuki Shiga said the company is considering the hybrid system for other models but gave no details.
Engineers said the system can work with front-wheel-drive cars and continuously variable transmissions. It also could be configured to power the Altima, Osawa said.
The Japanese sticker price starts at ¥5.775 million, or about $71,500.