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Infiniti to introduce hybrid version of 2014 QX60 crossover; first application of new FF-Hybrid system

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QX60 Hybrid. Click to enlarge.

Infiniti Motor Company Ltd. will introduce a new gasoline-electric hybrid version of the QX60 crossover into the US lineup this summer, following its world debut at the upcoming New York International Auto Show. The hybrid QX60, which will offer front-wheel and all-wheel drive versions, will be the first application of Nissan’s new FF-Hybrid (front-engine, front-wheel drive) one-motor, two-clutch hybrid system. (Earlier post.)

The new Infiniti QX60 Hybrid is projected to realize fuel economy of 26 mpg US (9.0 l/100 km) combined city/highway driving—a 24% increase over non-hybrid QX60 models and is projected to have best 7-passenger fuel efficiency in the segment. The new Infiniti QX60 Hybrid is projected to be priced about US$3,000 above the non-hybrid models.

The new QX60 Hybrid will be powered by an implementation of the FF-Hybrid system comprising a 2.5-liter supercharged engine and 15 kW electric motor connected to an advanced CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). Net system horsepower is estimated at 250 hp (186 kW). The QX60 Hybrid’s Infiniti “Direct Response Hybrid” system uses a compact Lithium-ion battery and electric motor to provide supplementary power through its one-motor/two-clutch system.

The result is a delivery of power equivalent to the 3.5-liter V6 but with 4-cylinder fuel economy. In his presentation on the FF system at the recent SAE 2013 Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium, Owen Thunes from Nissan noted that torque from the package of the 2.5L supercharged engine and the electric motor exceeds that of the 3.5L V-6 at the low to middle engine speed area.

The new CVT also offers two major improvements: reduced friction (a 40% drop compared to the 2004 CVT), and a wide ratio coverage. The new CVT with its wider ratio coverage improves the engine operating ratio by 3% in HWY mode, and has an advantage of 3% to 5% in all modes compare to a dual clutch transmission, Thunes said.

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Motor and clutches. Source: Nissan. Click to enlarge.

The motor and two clutches are installed co-axially in the space of the torque converter. The compact clutch enables the overall powertrain length to be equivalent to that of a conventional vehicle.

An Intelligent Regenerative Braking system partially recharges the battery during vehicle braking.

In his presentation at the SAE event, Thunes said that the new FF hybrid unit (CVT with Motor) can easily combine with variations of engines and various sizes of battery. When applied to an SUV or crossover, such as the QX60, the FF unit will be packaged with the 2.5L supercharged engine and a small battery which does not sacrifice luggage space. For a sedan or compact SUV, the company will use a 2.0-liter engine and a larger battery to boost EV range.

With the compact Li-ion battery located under the 3rd row seat, the QX60 Hybrid maintains its flat rear floor for easier passenger access to the rear seats and no impact to cargo room. The QX60 Hybrid will also offer a wide range of available technologies, such as Backup Collision Intervention (BCI) and Around View Monitor.

The hybrid system uses the same mechanical AWD system as conventional vehicle.

More information about the 2014 Infiniti QX60 Hybrid will be available following its official media unveiling on 27 March.

Launched in early 2012 as the Infiniti JX35, the Infiniti QX60 is one of Infiniti’s best-selling models, second only to the current Infiniti G line. With the addition of the new QX60 Hybrid to the Q70 Hybrid (currently available as the M Hybrid) and previously announced Q50 Hybrid, Infiniti will have a trio of advanced Direct Response Hybrids for the 2014 model year.

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