Nissans Only Hybrid Offering

By: RyanThomas

In the past, Nissan's Chief Executive Officer and savior Carlos Ghosn has been very vocal about his thoughts concerning hybrid vehicles. According to him, hybrid vehicles are not yet practical when Toyota and Honda came up with hybrid cars. The cost of production of these cars is the reason pointed out by Ghosn why hybrids are not yet practical in the past years.

Recently though, it seems that Ghosn has decided that the time is right for a hybrid car to join their lineup. The Nissan Altima hybrid is the company's first outing in the hybrid vehicle market. While it seems that Nissan has changed its mind concerning the production of hybrid vehicles, one should consider that Nissan is still somewhat conservative about the sale of the Altima Hybrid. This is because Nissan only offers the Altima Hybrid to the eight states with the toughest emission standards. These states are California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The Altima Hybrid though is not completely a Nissan even if its components are manufactured where are being manufactured. This is because the powertrain used by the Altima Hybrid is from Toyota - that one known as the Hybrid Synergy Drive. Nissan's use of the said technology is made possible by a licensing agreement with Toyota.

The third largest Japanese car manufacturer though is planning to introduce a hybrid vehicle of its own before the turn of the century. The production of the said vehicle is part of the Nissan Green Program 2010. The environmentally-aware program is Nissan's goal to reduce greenhouse gas emission by their vehicles and their facilities. Recently, the company installed solar panels in their assembly facility in Barcelona, Spain.

For now though, the only hybrid in Nissan's lineup is the Altima Hybrid and it has a starting price of $24,400. The hybrid version of the Altima is estimated to cost $3,500 more than the conventional Altima. The hybrid version though qualifies for a $2,350 tax credit. With that tax incentive scheme, Altima Hybrid owners are expected to get back their initial investment within two years in fuel savings.

The Altima Hybrid's powertrain can produce as much as 198 horsepower. Its internal combustion engine is a 2.5-liter direct overhead camshaft 16-valve 4-cylinder engine. This engine produces the 158 hp of the total power output of the power train. Providing the additional hp to the powertrain is a permanent magnetic AC synchronous electric motor.

Since it is a hybrid, it needs an efficient high-power output battery pack. Nissan chose a sealed nickel-metal hydride or Ni-MH battery which produces the additional 40 horsepower. With the engine and the electric motor as well as emissions filtering devices, Nissan managed to get an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emission Vehicle classification for the Altima Hybrid.

As far as ride comfort is concerned, the Altima Hybrid sports an independent sub frame-mounted strut type suspension for its front end. For the rear of the car, Nissan equipped it with a multi-link independent suspension setting. Stabilizer bars are also part of the Nissan Altima Hybrid's suspension assembly as well as a vehicle speed-sensitive electric steering.

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