Nissan to sell 15 hybrids by 2016; Altima Hybrid likely to return
Nissan realizes it needs to build more hybrids instead of slow-selling EVs.
Instead of launching a gradual buildup of gas-electric cars -- many automakers are just now introducing their first plug-in hybrids -- Nissan went straight to full-electric with its Leaf in late 2010.
Although Nissan was the first to introduce a mass-production EV in all 50 states, demand for electric cars remains low, so much so that other automakers, including hybrid leaders Honda and Toyota, are only selling limited numbers of EVs in just a handful of states. Still, Nissan says it has begun manufacturing batteries at its Smyrna, Tenn., plant and plans to build the Leaf there next year.
But with Toyota's rapid expansion of its Prius lineup, Honda's new trio of sophisticated hybrid powertrains, and sleek models from Kia and Ford, Nissan can't ignore hybrids anymore. Its first and only hybrid, the Altima Hybrid, was a lukewarm effort. The powertrain was licensed from Toyota, only it was less refined and efficient than competitors. In total, the Altima Hybrid sold fewer than 37,000 units in just eight states.
Nissan did not say what hybrid models it would introduce, but we'll bet the Altima Hybrid will return, given the 2013 model's well-received redesign and impressive 38-mpg highway fuel economy. We'll also put money on hybrid versions of the Maxima, Sentra and Murano, and, possibly, plug-in versions of the Altima to go head-to-head with the Fusion Energi and Accord Plug-in. With Mitsubishi planning a plug-in Outlander for 2014, a Pathfinder hybrid isn't out of the question, either, now that it has abandoned heavy body-on-frame construction.
Of course, Nissan's luxury brand has kept the Infiniti M Hybrid, but it's not a very profitable model. The smaller, best-selling G sedan would be a worthier candidate to battle the BMW ActiveHybrid 3. An EX hybrid, to compete with the upcoming Audi Q5 hybrid, would also work well since it's based on the G.
None of this is official, as automakers never comment on future products. Stay tuned.
Just a heads-up for those of you asking "why not more diesels?", you can only extract so much diesel from a barrel of oil. A 42-gallon barrel of oil will typically yield about 10 gallons of diesel and 19 gallons of gasoline. The Europeans already import diesel from the United States. If many more cars in the US started using diesel, it would create a shortage, driving up prices. If you think diesel is expensive compared to gasoline now, imagine what would happen to demand if more diesel cars were on the road here.
Anyone that don't know that electric power is going to be the future is about as dumb as thinking gun control is going to stop people from killing.
As soon as the secret is out, that solar powered cells aren't that expensive to make, then we will have solar powered, or electric cars. I like the idea of a gas powered engine in case the sun goes down or electric fails.
I won't be around to see it, but nuclear power or something like it will finally replace petro fuel. Actually, I have seen it because I built 5 nuclear power plants. I wished I could live long enough to see the Arabs have to drink the oil to get any use out of it.
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