Nissan has promised to substantially expand its currently limited range of hybrid models, as the manufacturer combats slow sales of its all-electric Leaf hatchback.
Petrol-electric power is currently reserved for Nissan‘s Infiniti luxury brand, after the Nissan Altima Hybrid sedan – which utilised Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive technology under licence – was discontinued with the previous-generation model in 2011. Nissan Alliance partners Renault and Dacia currently do not have hybrid models available.
The call for 15 hybrids to launch within four years means that existing models in Nissan’s line-up will run two motors.
The new-generation Altima, set to launch in Australia mid next year, is tipped to be the first to receive a hybrid drivetrain. The petrol-electric unit will be Nissan’s own design, for the first time, and will be urgently rushed to compete with the Accord PH-EV and Camry Hybrid, as emissions regulations tighten in North America.
The next-generation Infiniti G sedan, a BMW 3 Series rival to be shown at the Detroit motor show in January, is guaranteed to offer petrol-electric power.
Nissan is also rumoured to retro-fit the Renault Fluence EV with an internal combustion engine, increasing its driving range and lowering its price in a bid to improve sales.
Other candidates include the Nissan NV200 van – sold to New York taxi fleets – and the next-generation Micra, Murano and 370Z, all of which will come in for replacement before 2016.
The commitment to expanding hybrids comes less than a month after Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn admitted that US sales of the Leaf electric vehicle were much lower than expected. Ghosn told Bloomberg television in Mexico City that “the forecast we have given ourselves this year will not be reached”.
Nissan said it would double the 10,000 Leaf sales in 2011 the following year, however to October 2012 only 6791 sales had been recorded.
Speaking at the Nissan Green Program 2016 press briefing in Tokyo, chief operating officer Toshiyuki Shiga also confirmed that Nissan hopes to cut range emissions by more than 20 per cent with its hybrid and all-electric range.
“Thanks to environmentally friendly technology and new products, we are completely in line with our targets for the reduction of CO2 in the usage of vehicles,” Shiga said.