Published March 30, 2012
By Huw Evans
In Japan, Nissan Motor Co has been awarded the Contribution Prize of the Ichimura Prizes in Industry.
Hosted by the New Technology Development Foundation, the Ichimura Prizes in Industry award is now in its 44th year and is given to domestic individuals or organizations that show outstanding leadership in the field of new technologies.
This year, thanks to its one-motor, two-clutch parallel hybrid system, Nissan was presented with the Contribution Prize, being the only automaker to win such an award so far in 2012.
Although it started out by adapting Toyota’s own patented hybrid technology for use in Nissan gas-electric passenger vehicles, the Yokohama automaker has been making serious strides in the field of hybrid propulsion technology. Its one motor, two-clutch system was first introduced in the Infiniti M Hybrid and Japanese Domestic Market Nissan Fuga. It sports a 3.5-liter, 302 hp V6 gasoline engine and 50-kw electric motor integrated into the car’s automatic (not CVT) transmission and has been designed to combine V8 performance with four-cylinder fuel economy (approximately 24/32 miles per gallon city/highway).
Two clutches, one mounted between the engine’s crankshaft and electric motor; the other in the rear of the transmission, enable the gas engine to “de-couple” under deceleration or when the vehicle is operating in electric mode, while still providing the extra performance when needed.
Because the engine can be disconnected, friction and parasitic loss at low speeds and under braking are minimized, boosting electric motor efficiency and thus fuel economy. Using dual clutches dispenses with the need for a torque converter as found in traditional automatics, further reducing parasitic loss and improving throttle response.
The battery pack employed with the one motor, two-clutch system, sports laminated cells and manganese cathodes, which Nissan says is designed to improve temperature regulation and thus prolong battery life – still a major issue with most hybrids and EVs.
Besides winning the Ichimura Contribution Prize, the one motor, two-clutch system was also awarded the Technological Development Award by the Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan last year. So far in 2012, it has also received the Chairman’s Prize by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Machine Industry, as well as the Medal for New Technology by the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Green Car Congress via Nissan Global