Nissan has announced a bit of a shift in its policy towards environmentally friendly cars in recent days: it’s going hybrid. Why is that news? I’m glad you asked.
See, back in 2008, Nissan-Renault CEO Carols Ghosn said that Nissan were “not interested in some ‘Stars Wars’ prototype, but in really bringing a mass market product that everybody can buy.” before calling electric cars “a new chapter in the life of this industry.” In a very real sense, Nissan tried to “skip ahead” of a hybrid Nissan and the competition coming out of Toyota and Honda and cut out the ICE completely by betting their money on electric pure-vehicles like the Leaf and (through its sister company, Renault) Twizy.
So, what happened?
It seems like Nissan has started to learn the same lesson that Toyota recently learned when its dealers didn’t want to take on any pure EVs, and opted for hybrids instead. Similar pressures may have forced Nissan to reconsider the “obsolete” ICE for their next round of product updates – a hypothesis reinforced by Spanish-language site Motorpasion, which claims that Nissan now has plans to hybridize their entire line-up with technology ranging from “simple” start-stop systems to advanced plug-ins with KERS-style energy recovery systems being used to supplement gas and alternative-fuel internal-combustion drivetrains and “range-extenders”.
For those of you with long memories, this might seem like Nissan is on its back foot – especially when you consider that the Altima (a current Nissan hybrid) is using powertrains sourced from Toyota! I like to think more positively, though. Nissan-Renault have been dominating F1 for the past few years and have worked with teams like RedBull and (most critically) Williams, who have developed a number of hybrid systems, including the ones found in Porsche’s GT3 R and upcoming 918 supercar. Indeed, Nissan’s Infiniti-badged M35h already has a “fully Nissan” hybrid system that puts 360 hp to the ground with enough effectiveness that the car is being called “the world’s fastest hybrid” by certain auto-bloggers who’ve (apparently) never heard of Porsche or Formula 1.
Here’s hoping, then, that ol’ Carlos can get a Nissan hybrid right … and that we can get a sikk hybrid GTR out of it! (until then, I’ll have to settle for Cornzilla when I want to drive a fast, low-emission Nissan!!)