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Report: Nissan to End Hybrids Agreement with Toyota; Developing Plug-In Hybrid Model

The Yomiuri Shimbun reports that Nissan will develop new hybrid vehicle technology on its own, thereby ending its reliance on a joint agreement with Toyota.

The new compact car models—to be introduced in 2010—will be equipped with lithium-ion battery systems and include a plug-in hybrid vehicle model, according to unnamed sources cited in the report.

Nissan is currently introducing a hybrid version of the Altima based on Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive technology early next year. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has maintained that hybrids are “a terrible business prospect” and has viewed hybrids as a solution for niche markets such as California. (Earlier post.)

The demand for hybrid models in the context of rising fuel prices has apparently led Nissan to reconsider its earlier stance.

Toyota’s hybrid systems will be used in about 100,000 units of the Altima Hybrid. Since Nissan now intends to mass-produce its own models, it is considering using Toyota’s systems on just the Altima model sold in the United States.

Toyota likely will agree to Nissan’s decision. A representative for Toyota said it would not provide its hybrid systems to Nissan for other models than the Altima unless Nissan requested it to do so.

Comments

Patrick

Hybrid compact cars? I guess this indicates the chances are slim to see them in the US unless the hybrid Altima does fantastic.

On the other hand the 2007 Sentra is estimating gas mileage with a 2.0L motor that bests the 1.8L in the 2006 Sentra and equals (or maybe bests?) the gas mileage of the 1.8L Nissan Versa. Perhaps some of the techniques discussed earlier for improving the 3.5L V-6 are being applied to this new 2.0L. I remember back in the late 90s the 1.6L Sentra/200SX offered better fuel economy than any current Nissan.

James White

This is great news if Nissan truly plans to offer a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) by 2010. I love my Toyota Prius, but I'd trade it in for a well-made factory-built PHEV in a heartbeat. This would be an opportunity for Nissan to leap frog ahead of their competition.

Noogums

Will be interesting to see what angle Nissan approaches this from. Every brand has their competency with hybrids.
-Mitsubishi with their wild in-wheel motors and sub-compacts,
-GM with their soft hybrids and focus on hybrid large vehicles/busses/industrial vehicles
-Most Euro cars fucussign on diesel-electrics and advancements in diesel/biodiesel ICE.
-And of course Toyota playing the environmental angle through the media on their technology

Nissan have been effectively sitting on the sidelines watching Toyota go at it with occasional input.
With good reason, for it was difficult at first to interpret how the hybrid market was going to go. If they do a clean slate approach they may be able to take on a more innovative approach and come up with a better product then Toyota (in Nissan terms, effectively a copy of Toyota, but cheaper and less spartan).

Nissan in my personnal oppinion has always had the better kit, but always decide to walk on the safe road and learn from other's mistakes. They've always been a bit too modest and never come accross as more then the affordable car company.
Really looking forward to the Nissan alternative.
Go go Nissan !!

FYI co2

"And of course Toyota playing the environmental angle through the media on their technology"

WHY NOT? leadership, consumption and emission figures substantiate Toyota's position.
Nissan might be the first with a big chrome grilled plug-in, but I'd bet my yen that Toyota will not "sit idle" & let Nissan beat them to the PHEV market.

Mark R. W. Jr.

But the big question is, can Nissan deliver? Don't they even have yet to show a concept car or prototype?

Ron Fischer

Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan previously derided hybrids as making no economic sense. Well, neither does the Aston Martin Vantage, but people still buy them. Hybrids like the Prius are proving their mettle with smooth driving characteristics and great comfort in long-distance travel. Making only economic comparisons with hybrids misses the point: these are not cut-rate econoboxes compared purely on dollar value.

The message seems to be reaching Nissan's management. Not only that, sounds like they're going to take it to the next level with a plug-in hybrid.

The Yomiuri Newspaper article indicates the initial goals are a line of compact hybrid cars using Lithium Ion battery technology, with at least one plug-in hybrid in the bunch. While Toyota has moved beyond compacts with their hybrid system, and GM staunchly aims all of it's efforts at giant SUVs, it makes sense for Nissan to start with compacts. A hybrid system, with its complex programming to blend start-stop engine control and torque from two electric motors and an engine takes time to get right. It's surely easier to do that for a small vehicle compared to the higher stresses in a larger one.

Bravo Nissan. If the company accomplishes this they'll have stepped out of line, and will gain market share in an environment of rising oil prices.

Alexander Terrell

"A hybrid system, with its complex programming to blend start-stop engine control and torque from two electric motors and an engine takes time to get right. It's surely easier to do that for a small vehicle compared to the higher stresses in a larger one."

But if Nissan go for a PHEV, it might make more sense to go for a Series Hybrid, rather than parallel. This makes the concept much simpler, and reduces the production costs significantly. It might also make sense to put the motors in the wheels, further improving drive efficiency and freeing up cabin space.

MPG > HP

There are already propotype plug-in LiIon kits available for the Prius in the aftermarket. It makes sense that the factory is also busy pursuing that lighter, more energy dense technology. Toyota has a huge lead over the competition, so not much leap-frogging to be seen, unless Toyota sits on its laurals. I imagine that the fire potential is what is holding things up - note the recent problems with "proven technology" laptop batteries supplied by Sony. Then again, there is LiPoly which packs an even greater per pound punch, also if it can be deployed safely. With a highly stable and effective energy storage-transmission-recovery system in place, Toyota can "afford" to pursue improvements in battery efficiency, while the other factories play drivetrain and systems catch-up.

MPG > HP

http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0925/p03s02-usgn.html

W Fretts

The key to pure EV success is safe, high energy storage.

I like 2 companies developing non-graphite fast recharge and safer Lithium batteries: 123 systems and Altair Nanotech - both actively working on EV trials. (Graphite lithium batteries are a not the answer.) Also Maxwell's super caps based on carbon nanotube fuzz.

These teams point the way to smoking high performance EVs, with power to burn on those cold slushy January nights.

So a question - with so much native lithium and a booming overabundance of carbon in North America - why the heck can't we build excellent, safe high capacity storage right here in Canada where we have the raw materials, the electricty to charge them and the smarts to build them?

I have some ideas on how to license and leverage proven tech here if there are any VCs in the room.

bfretts@internet.look.ca

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