After using the Toyota-developed hybrid system designed for the Camry in the Altima, Nissan is looking to offer the world their own take on this fast-growing segment of the industry. Nissan has been using this hybrid system in the Altima since 2007 and discontinued its use with the 2011 model year. The Nissan system should prove to be quite an improvement if Nissan’s success with the Infiniti M Hybrid is any indication. Keeping in mind that the Nissan and Infiniti hybrid designs are significantly different systems, the engineering accomplishments achieved thus far speak for themselves.
The image above represents the Front-wheel-drive hybrid system designed for use by Nissan in North America starting in 2013. Although sketchy on specifics, Nissan did have this to say – The new hybrid system will use an electric motor, two clutches and the next-generation Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). This electric portion of the drivetrain will be combined with a 2.5 liter supercharged four cylinder gasoline engine. While not offering any power numbers, Nissan stated that this combination should provide performance similar to a 3.5 liter gasoline engine with “much better” city and highway fuel economy. The 2012 Altima with 3.5 liter V6 offers 270 horsepower and achieves 20/27/23 city/highway/combined miles per gallon. Which is why we brought up the Infiniti M Hybrid at the beginning of this post.
Infiniti has the M Hybrid in their current lineup using a 3.5 liter gasoline engine and 7-speed automatic transmission combined with a 67 horsepower electric motor. This combined drivetrain provides an output of 360 net horsepower. This is sufficient to propel this 4,129 pound car from 0-60 miles per hour in 5.2 seconds, and to reach the quarter mile in 13.9 seconds. This is solid enough performance to put it in the Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest accelerating full hybrid. The electric motor is powerful enough to let the car achieve speeds up to 62 miles per hour in electric only mode. And it does all this while returning 27 miles per gallon city, 32 miles per gallon highway, or 29 miles per gallon combined. By comparison, the previous Toyota-based Altima hybrid offered 198 net horsepower, 33 miles per gallon city, 33 miles per gallon highway, and 33 miles per gallon combined. Also, in a real-world evaluation of various hybrid vehicles in a United Kingdom-based fuel economy competition, the M Hybrid returned better than the advertised combined miles per gallon, while no other competitor could even achieve their expected fuel economy. No doubt this is because almost half of the 370 mile course was driven on electric power alone.
We fully anticipate that if the M Hybrid can achieve the above fuel-economy numbers, then this new Nissan developed four-cylinder hybrid should be able to achieve a significant improvement in both power and fuel economy over the previously offered system. While not saying in which Nissan vehicles this new hybrid powerplant will be available, it’s a safe bet to say that the Altima is the most likely candidate initially. Other global markets will see this drivetrain after its launch in North America.