Published November 30, 2011
Last summer, Nissan announced that the hybrid version of its popular Altima sedan would be discontinued. Created to help the carmaker meet emissions requirements in select U.S. states, the Altima licensed Toyota's hybrid drivetrain and battery technologies but was never pushed to compete with the leading hybrid models. The Altima hybrid was only ever available in nine states, and sales for last year topped out at just 612 in the U.S.―a number about 40 percent higher than 2009's total.
At the time, rumors circulated that the Altima hybrid would be revived in a few years with a Nissan-designed powertrain and battery configuration capable of bringing down production and licensing costs for the car.
This week, Nissan confirmed those rumors, announcing at a press briefing in Tokyo that it would be bringing the Altima hybrid back for 2014 with an all-new gas engine, electric motor, and continuously variable transmission (CVT.) Appropriately, the standard Altima will be getting a redesign and a new engine in the 2013 model year, with its new CVT bringing about a 10-percent more efficient performance on its own.
The 2014 hybrid will pair a new, more efficient 2.5-liter supercharged four-cylinder engine with a single-motor electric configuration. In the original Altima hybrid, Nissan utilized Toyota's dual-motor Hybrid Synergy Drive, paired with a 2.5-liter gas engine to produce a total of up to 198 horsepower. This time around, the combined gas-electric output of the Altima hybrid is expected to reach about 270 horsepower.
Though no word as yet been given on price or fuel economy, expect the car to be more cost-competitive than its predecessor, and achieve a combined efficiency in the 40-mpg-plus ballpark.