Hybrid Hi-Cross Concept Hints At Future Nissan SUV

Nissan showed at the Los Angeles Auto Show the Hi-Cross Concept, a hybrid-powered design statement giving hints at the look and feel of the next-generation of Nissan crossovers.

Per Nissan, the design is dramatic and athletic, yet completely purposeful. The dimensions are compact, but the interior surprisingly roomy.

The concept’s hybrid drivetrain is based on a new Nissan system developed for front- and four-wheel-drive models.

“Nissan established crossover design leadership from the introduction of the highly original Nissan Murano by exploring new ideas and concepts and implementing them on a production vehicle,” said Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division, Nissan North America, Inc. “The Hi-Cross Concept stretches the compact SUV envelope in design and technology, while remaining pure to Nissan’s family adventure vehicle spirit.”

Built on a 109.4-inch wheelbase with a 183.5-inch overall length, the Hi-Cross Concept offers seven-passenger seating within its compact dimensions thanks to short front and rear overhangs, compact HEV drivetrain and efficient packaging.

“The power behind Nissan’s brand philosophy, ‘Innovation that excites,’ comes from our dedication to continuously exploring new ideas,” said Castignetti. “Coupling an electric motor – powered by a Nissan-developed compact lithium-ion battery similar to that utilized in the Nissan LEAF electric vehicle – with a 2.0-liter direct injection gasoline engine is another great example of the smart technology behind every Nissan.”

The powertrain adopts Nissan’s “one-motor, two clutch” technology. The first of the two clutches is installed between the 2.0-liter engine and the electric motor. Nissan uses this clutch to facilitate full decoupling of the gasoline engine when the car is in electric drive and power regeneration modes. The second clutch, located behind the transmission, helps smooth the transition. Decoupling the engine reduces mechanical losses and boosts efficiency of the electric motor.

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For example, in city driving, the presence of the electric motor and lithium-ion battery allow the engine to be turned off frequently. It can also be disengaged completely with the clutch and energy can be recovered effectively when braking.

This hybrid system is linked to Nissan’s next-generation Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). The low-friction CVT design, used on the recently introduced 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, has smaller shaft-diameter pulleys to provide the widest possible ratio coverage for enhanced efficiency.

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The hybrid drivetrain makes use of the battery technology Nissan developed for the Nissan LEAF. The lithium-ion battery, linked to Nissan’s motor control technology, provides acceleration assist when needed. This is part of how Nissan is able to downsize of the gasoline engine for optimum economy and emissions.

“Though just a design exercise today, the Hi-Cross Concept offers an exciting blueprint for a future production Nissan crossover,” added Castignetti.