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Nissan relegates the gas engine to charging the battery

TOKYO -- Nissan Motor plans to roll out a new type of hybrid this autumn.

The Note, the automaker's popular gas-powered minicar, will get a hybrid sibling, but the gas engine will only be used to recharge the car's battery pack.

The wheels will only get power from the battery.

The Note hybrid will be the first model in Japan to operate this way.

The advanced power system increases fuel efficiency by 40%, which means the new Note will be Japan's most fuel efficient compact car.

It will get close to 40km per liter, outdistancing the 37km that Toyota Motor's hybrid Aqua goes on a liter of gas.

The sticker price will be around 2 million yen ($19,234), which puts the note in the same ballpark as gas-powered cars.

Conventional hybrids optimize the use of their gas engines and electric motors to increase fuel efficiency. The new Note, however, restricts the gas engine's use to recharging the battery. So while the car will still need to be taken to the gas station every now and then, drivers will never have to worry about charging the battery.

The car could hit showrooms in November.

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