Nissan Adding Plug-in Hybrid To Electric LineupBy John O'Dell October 24, 2011
A plug-in hybrid vehicle will join Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.s lineup of electric-drive vehicles by 2015, part of the automakers drive to become along with its French partner Renault SA the worlds leading provider of advanced-technology vehicles. The new plug-in will be part of a broader slate that will include a replacement in the 2013-2014 timeframe for the discontinued Altima Hybrid and, as Nissan has previously announced, three more all-electric vehicles to join the Leaf EV hatchback the company launched almost 11 months ago.
Details about the new EVs were not announced, but the plug-in hybrid is expected to be a small car using a platform being co-developed by Nissan and Germanys Daimler AG. The conventional hybrid, which Nissan hinted at previously, will be a Nissan-developed gas-electric system to replace the system that was licensed from Toyota Motor Corp. and used in the Altima hybrid that was discontinued for the 2012 model year. While Nissan hasnt said so, most industry watchers expect the new car to be part of the popular Altima lineup. Nissan is already using an in-house-developed conventional hybrid system for its new Infiniti M Hybrid launched earlier this year as a 2012 model.
The automaker announced the new vehicles and restated its intent to add three more all-electric cars during its annual update this morning in Japan (above) of its Nissan Green 6-year environmental plan. The automaker repeated its goal of achieving cumulative sales along with Renault of 1.5 million emissions-free vehicles globally by the end of its 2017 fiscal year and said that it would achieve a 35-percent improvement of its fleet-wide average fuel economy and a 20-percent reduction in its corporate carbon-dioxide emissions by the end of 2016. The company is using 2005 levels as the base from which to achieve the gains and reductions. Nissan said it expected to spend about 300 billion yen ($3.9 billion), or 70 percent of its advanced research and development budget over the next six years, on environmental technologies.
Among them is a new-generation continuously variable transmission (CVT) and continued development in partnership with Renault and Daimler of fuel-cell electric vehicles to augment the companies battery-electric vehicle programs. Fuel-cell electric vehicles use essentially the same electric-drive systems as battery-electric cars, but rather than storing power in heavy advanced-chemistry batteries, they produce it on-board from stored hydrogen in a thermochemical reaction that takes place in a relatively compact fuel cell stack. Fuel-cell vehicles would need hydrogen fuel made in a low-carbon system and delivered via a widespread distribution network. But if the vehicles, fuel and fueling infrastructure all can be economically delivered, supporters believe fuel-cell electric cars and trucks would offer clean, petroleum-free transportation for motorists who need to travel long distances that now are impractical for range-limited battery-electric vehicles.