The Nissan Altima Hybrid first went on sale in 2007 as Nissan's first hybrid vehicle. Since then, it has only been available in California and seven other US states that follow the same strict emissions standards. Unfortunately, only 35,000 units have been sold in its total lifespan so far.
To give you some perspective, Toyota has sold over one million Prius vehicles in the US since its debut in 1997. Although the Toyota has had a ten-year head start, it managed to accumulate over 183,000 sales in 2007 alone (in the US).
The interesting thing about the Altima is, according to US reports and reviews, the car is actually a fuel-efficient and comfortable package. It doesn't look too bad either, in fact, Nissan sold 25,525 non-Hybrid Altimas in May this year. And to top it off, the hybrid engine system is licenced from Toyota's hybrid technology, which means the powertrain takes on a very similar design to the Prius.
There's a number of suspected reasons for the slump in sales. One is due to the way the Altima Hybrid is marketed, or not marketed. Some consumers buy the Prius for the badge, for the 'I'm doing my bit for the environment' element. But with the Altima Hybrid, the only way to know it is a hybrid is to read the small logo on the outside. Apart from this, the styling doesn't stand out as a super-frugal car, or from the rest of the Altima range.
Another possible reason is the fact that Nissan hasn't offered ongoing updates for the model, like the Prius, which has changed its shape and equipment package throughout its years of existence. Some also say it is due to the Altima's starting price, which is around $4000 more than the Prius, and the fact that it is only available in selected areas of the US.
It's a shame to see any car sneak past under the radar without really making a decent impact on the auto industry, especially a car that deserves, at least, some portion of the hybrid revolution.
What do you think though: good riddance or goodbye, farewell?