It took a long time for Nissan to jump on the hybrid bandwagon. So long, in fact, that their only model currently offered as a hybrid, the Altima, still uses Toyota's technology. That will change in 2010 as Nissan rolls out the Infiniti M Hybrid for their luxury brand.

The rear-wheel drive M will have a 3.5-liter V6 mated to a Nissan designed parallel hybrid system with two clutches and an electric motor. Electric power will be stored in a high-efficiency lithium-ion battery pack, allowing for more power and quicker recharging than the hybrids currently on the market. The system can operate in full electric mode at low speeds, electric and gas mode under heavy acceleration, and gas-only mode when cruising.

A number of luxury vehicle makers including Daimler and BMW are currently planning hybrids and Toyota's Lexus division already offers three (with another dedicated model on the way). The apparent advantage of introducing a hybrid luxury car first, is the ability to mitigate the costs of designing a gas-electric powertrain by assigning them to a premium brand. If this works for Nissan, the hybrid wars will only get more competitive.

Source: Business Week