AUTOSHOW-Nissan aims to launch luxury diesel hybrid in 2010

GENEVA, March 3 Tue Mar 3, 2009 5:31am EST

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GENEVA, March 3 (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co (7201.T) unveiled on Tuesday a concept car under its Infiniti luxury brand that it plans to adapt for production as a hybrid car twinned with a diesel engine for the European market next year.

Japan's third biggest automaker unveiled the Essence concept, a sporty coupe equipped with luggage in the trunk custom-designed by Louis Vuitton (LVMH.PA), at the week-long Geneva International Motor Show which opened on Tuesday.

The concept car is fitted with Nissan's proprietary hybrid system that twins a 3.7-litre, turbocharged V6 petrol engine.

But a Nissan spokeswoman said Nissan's priority for the European market was to launch a production version of the car with a V6 diesel hybrid system in what could be one of the world's first cars to hybridise a diesel engine.

Nissan gave no indication of the car's price range. A diesel hybrid would theoretically be more fuel-efficient than a petrol hybrid but is more expensive to build.

"Customers willing to pay for a diesel hybrid would be in the luxury segment," the spokeswoman said.

Toyota Motor Corp's (7203.T) Lexus luxury brand is also due to unveil a new hybrid car, the RX450h, at the Geneva show. (Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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