Last week, Nissan announced that it was dropping the Altima Hybrid model from its 2012 lineup. The the car licensed Toyota’s hybrid drivetrain and battery technology to help Nissan meet emissions requirements in the nine U.S. states, but was never available to customers outside of those states. Critics enjoyed the added performance punch that the Altima Hybrid offered over competing hybrids, and since the non-hybrid Altima remains Nissan’s best selling vehicle worldwide, producing a hybrid version of the sedan has always made sense in theory.
According to a report in AutoNews, Nissan still sees the wisdom in selling the model, and is planning to reintroduce the Altima Hybrid as early as next year. This time around though, the carmaker won’t have to pay Toyota a license fee for its hybrid system.
Reportedly, the revamped Altima Hybrid will feature a front-wheel drive version of the gas-electric powertrain Nissan recently debuted in the Infiniti M Hybrid. Nissan developed its hybrid system in-house this time though, with plans to slot it into several new or existing models in the coming years. If the Altima indeed becomes one of those models, it will likely accompany a fifth-generation redesign of the car, which last received a full retooling in 2007.
Nissan’s new proprietary hybrid system is built around 1.3-kWh lithium ion battery. In the M Hybrid, that battery is housed underneath the floorboard and teamed with a 360-volt motor rated at 67 hp and 199 lbs.-ft. of torque. Both gasoline and electric power are routed through the the rear-wheels in that car, but the system would be reconfigured for front-wheel drive in new Altima Hybrid.
Since Nissan produces the current iteration of the car at its Smyrna, Tenn. facilities (which will soon be home to the carmaker’s brand new $1.6 billion lithium-ion battery plant,) it would make sense that both the vehicle itself and it’s battery could be manufactured in the United States.