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Nissan developing new FWD hybrid tech for next Altima

Last week we reported that when the 2012 Nissan Altima arrives, the slow-selling hybrid trimline will not be available but reports out of Japan suggest that Nissan is working on a new Altima hybrid using similar technology to what the company uses on the current Infiniti M35h.

The current (and soon to be discontinued) Nissan Altima Hybrid was a curious project, as Nissan used mostly Toyota technology to build a hybrid sedan that the company only sold in a few select markets. The Altima Hybrid was a failure compared to the other hybrid sedans in the segment so Nissan is killing it off but according to the Japanese publication Nikkan Kogyo, Nissan is working on adapting the rear wheel drive hybrid system from the Infiniti lineup for the next Altima Hybrid.

Nissan’s gas/electric hybrid system currently in place in their Infiniti M35h uses a 3.5L V6 mated to a rear wheel drive hybrid transmission but when the system is adapted for the next Altima Hybrid, it will be a front wheel drive transaxle, most like fitted to a 4-cylinder engine. The Infiniti M35h is marketed as a luxury sport hybrid so Nissan equipped it with a healthy, 360 horsepower V6 that still yields an impressive 32 miles per gallon. However, when this hybrid system is modified for the Altima Hybrid, there is less concern about offering tons of power so the fuel economy should be substantially better with the small 4-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission (CVT).

There is no indication as to whether Nissan will use an existing 4-cylinder engine for the next Altima Hybrid but we can expect a single motor, dual clutch hybrid system like the one in M35h. According to Automotive News, a Nissan representative stated that the front wheel drive setup in the next Altima Hybrid was their best way to offer improved fuel economy for their D-segment and larger vehicles. With that comment, it sounds like we could see this front wheel drive hybrid system in vehicles like the Maxima – perhaps even their minivan lineup – but that is just speculation based on the “larger vehicles” comment.

This new Altima Hybrid, which could arrive as early as next year, could help Nissan get up to speed with the booming hybrid segment. The current Altima Hybrid will be discontinued after this year, but with limited availability in the US, the Toyota-built Altima saw little success compared to the competition. However, Nissan’s use of their own hybrid technology, featuring lithium ion batteries could help the company to offer their first real, competitive hybrid sedan for the US market.

Source: Automotive News

Other Nissan News:
Nissan drops the Altima Hybrid for the 2012 model year
US production of Nissan LEAF electric car may be postponed due to Japan earthquake
NHTSA investigates the electric vehicle segment for fire risks
The 2012 Nissan GT-R will get more power, R-Spec model
The Nissan Leaf easily outsells the Chevy Volt in May 2011
NHTSA investigating Nissan Altima for brake fluid leaks

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