According to a Reuters report from Tokyo, Nissan will finally enter the hybrid market with a completely self-developed vehicle in 2010. Currently Nissan isn't selling any hybrids although they have a hybrid Altima coming in 2007. The Altima will be using technology licensed from Toyota. Ford also uses Toyota-licensed technology in the Escape/Mariner hybrid. Nissan/Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn has made clear previously that hybrids don't make a lot of sense from a business standpoint because of low margins. For one thing, they are significantly more expensive to build than their conventional counterparts. Consumers so far have been unwilling to pay the full cost difference in the bottom line, particularly on smaller cars like the Civic and Prius, so manufacturers have had to sell hybrids with little or no profit margin. More expensive hybrids like the Honda Accord and Lexus RX400h have so far sold relatively poorly.

The main reason Nissan gives for selling the Altima with licensed Toyota technology is to meet California's average fuel economy standards. Nissan has been developing their own in-house hybrid technology, in parallel with the Altima development and this is what they expect to produce in 2010. Nissan has not commented on the Reuters report so far so no additional details are available on what kind of vehicle or technology to expect.

[Source: Reuters]


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