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Nissan to have its own hybrid by 2010
Nissan Motor Co. is developing a hybrid for 2010 that will provide better acceleration and fuel economy than hybrids on the road today, said Mitsuhiko Yamashita, Nissan executive vice president of research and development.

Among full-line automakers, Nissan has been near the back of the pack in bringing hybrids to market. Last year, it began selling an Altima hybrid that uses Toyota technology.

In 2010, Nissan will launch a new hybrid using its own system, said Yamashita, who was in Detroit this week for the North American International Auto Show. The automaker has not said which car will get the system, but it will be a rear-wheel drive vehicle, he said.

Nissan also is designing the hybrid to use more electric power than current hybrids, extending the range that can be driven without using the gas engine, Yamashita said.

Toyota has been successful in marketing the Prius, but the contest is not over, he said. "This is just starting," Yamashita said. "We still don't know who will be the winner eventually."

Although Toyota and General Motors Corp. are promoting plug-in hybrids as the next stage, Yamashita said he has doubts about this technology. Plug-ins require even more battery capacity, the most expensive part of the hybrid system, he said.

"Putting a more expensive battery on top of the battery ... that's not a good solution," he said. Detroit Free Press

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