Nissan’s first hybrid, the 2007 Altima Hybrid, made its debut at the 2007-Model Orange County Auto Show in Anaheim, California.
Based on Toyota technology, the Altima Hybrid’s powertrain mates a version of the QR25 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and electronic Continuously Variable Transmission (eCVT) with a 30 kW (40 hp) electric motor/generator that can develop 199 lb-ft (270 Nm) of torque. The Altima Hybrid’s hybrid system is rated at a net power of 198 horsepower (148 kW) with fuel economy estimated at 41 mpg city/36 mpg highway (39 mpg combined).
Combined with Altima’s standard 20-gallon fuel tank, the Altima Hybrid has a projected driving range of up to 700 miles between fill-ups.
The Altima Hybrid utilizes regenerative braking technology to sustain the charge in 244-volt NiMH battery pack.
Nissan modified the QR25 4-cylinder engine for the hybrid with a larger intake manifold, slightly increased the compression ratio (9.6:1 compared to 9.5:1 in the standard engine) and reduced friction characteristics. The engine also features Nissan’s Continuously Variable Timing Control System (CVTCS) for continuously variable valve timing, modular engine design, microfinished crank journals and cam lobes, molybdenum-coated lightweight pistons and electronically controlled throttle.
The hybrid system-specific eCVT works in conjunction with the Hybrid Vehicle-Electric Control Unit (HV-ECU) to determine which power source or combination of power sources will turn the wheels.
The Altima Hybrid’s electric motor produces high torque at low rpm, allowing it to utilize its all-electric mode (Electric Vehicle—EV mode) to power the car from a standing idle and through initial acceleration without the assistance of the gasoline engine.
After the electric motor provides initial acceleration, the gasoline engine quietly starts and assumes the load of powering the vehicle. The gasoline engine works independently through cruising speeds until the vehicle reaches speeds at which fuel efficiency declines.
When loads require, the electric motor starts again and aids the gasoline engine in powering the Altima Hybrid. This allows the gasoline engine to remain in its ideal rpm range while the axle rpm simultaneously increases due to the extra power being contributed by the electric motor.
A digital display on the speedometer indicates when the Altima Hybrid is running solely on electric power. The Altima Hybrid’s available DVD navigation system also features a real-time display showing how the hybrid system directs the flow of energy.
Classified as an Advanced Technology-Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV), the new Altima Hybrid will be available in eight states. The vehicle has been certified to meet California emissions requirements and will be sold beginning in early 2007 in those states that have adopted California emissions regulations: California, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, Maine and New Jersey. These states are among the strongest markets for hybrid vehicles.
The new Altima Hybrid is the sixth model in the 2007 Altima lineup, joining the Altima 2.5, 2.5 S, 2.5 S with SL Package and two 3.5-liter V6-powered models, the Altima 3.5 SE and 3.5 SL. The 2007 Altima Hybrid will be available in early 2007, following the November 2006 introduction of the 2007 Altima 2.5-liter 4-cylinder and 3.5-liter V6 gasoline-powered models.
(A hat-tip to Dave Thomas at cars.com!)