Looking at the 2012 product lineup from Nissan, there’s one not-so-glaring omission: There’s no Altima Hybrid in the 2012 Altima product mix. There isn’t even a mention of it in the automaker’s revelation of its 2012 changes. The 2012 Altima coupe and sedan models, however, which are mostly carryover, are on sale now.
Sales-wise, the Altima Hybrid hasn’t exactly been a chart-buster, selling only about 35,000 in total since its 2007 introduction.
The departure of Nissan’s only gasoline-electric hybrid model may, however, be part of the Japanese automaker’s plans, a house-cleaning of sorts, making room for new Nissan hybrids to come.
2011 Nissan LeafEnlarge Photo
In fact, as reported in Automotive News, even though Nissan is putting a heavy focus on electric vehicles at present, specifically the all-electric Nissan Leaf introduced in early 2011, company product spokesman John Schilling said the company does plan to move into “other power technologies for the future, including hybrid.”
2012 Infiniti M HybridEnlarge Photo
Out with the old, in with the new – and here’s why. The current Nissan Altima Hybrid utilizes a hybrid drive system developed and supplied by Toyota. Since the Altima Hybrid’s introduction, Nissan has developed its own hybrid-drive system in-house, using lithium-ion technology. The first product to use this new system is the 2012 Infiniti M Hybrid which was recently introduced to the U.S. market.
With Nissan building a new lithium-ion battery plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, lithium-ion battery production capacity will be 50,000 more than that required for the Leaf. The plant reportedly has a capacity to build 200,000 of the advanced batteries a year. Nissan previously announced it plans to assemble the Leaf in Smyrna beginning in late 2012.
So, while the nearly-departed Nissan Altima Hybrid may be missed by some, it won’t be for long. Count on Nissan to make use of its new hybrid system in the new M hybrid and “cascade it through where it makes sense,” according to Mark Perry, director of product planning at Nissan North America.