Some say electric vehicles are the real future of automobiles and hybrids are just the first step in the transition. With drivetrains like Infiniti’s forthcoming hybrid, that transition may be a long one, however. By now most of us are familiar with the series hybrid, the plug-in hybrid and the more common parallel hybrid (e.g. the Toyota Prius). Infiniti’s ‘new type of hybrid’ will see use in the FX some time after 2010, and will do things current hybrids can only dream of.

Long distance cruising at high speed is not the strong suit of current hybrid systems because their electric motors can’t provide much assist. This leads to highway mileage that is about the same as non-hybrid variants. Infiniti has a plan to change all this however, by enabling their hybrid drivetrain to assist the petrol engine at high speed and for sustained periods. As fitted to the FX crossover, the system will also allow electric-only mode around town and in stop-and-go traffic.

By allowing the electric motor to assist in more circumstances and enabling electric-only mode for shorter distances and lower speeds, the Infiniti FX’s hybrid drivetrain should be able to achieve fuel consumption figures previously unthinkable for such a large vehicle. However, skepticism should remain to some degree as this new hybrid drivetrain is still little more than a twinkle in an engineer’s eye - the harsh realities of automotive production may yet step in to impede Infiniti’s progress.