April 16, 2007: Source—PC World/Reuters

Nissan Altima Hybrid

The new Nissan Altima Hybrid uses technology leased from Toyota. Nissan is developing its own hybrid system and lithium batteris for its next-generation hybrids, expected in 2010.

In the early chapters of the hybrid saga, Nissan lagged behind its Japanese competitors, Toyota and Honda. Now the company is trying to leapfrog the competition by leveraging its work in the early 1990s on lithium batteries. Nissan Motor Co., NEC Corp. and unit NEC Tokin Corp. said on Friday they would form a joint venture company to produce lithium-ion batteries from 2009 to be used in hybrid and electric cars. According to the announcement, the partners are already underway on mass production and commercialization of a lithium-ion battery, which has twice the power of conventional batteries at half the size. Reuters reports:

A breakthrough by Nissan and NEC in the highly contested business could put Japan’s third-biggest automaker back in the game for offering next-generation "green" vehicles after trailing its bigger domestic rivals for the past decade.

"The evolution of battery technology will be a deciding factor in bringing tomorrow’s electric vehicles closer to reality," Nissan Senior Vice President Minoru Shinohara told a news conference.

Nissan recently introduced a hybrid version of the Altima, its popular sedan. The 2007 Altima Hybrid uses hybrid technology leased from Toyota. Nissan is expected to launch its internally developed hybrid in 2010, and will likely use a lithium battery. Yet, Toyota may once ahead be ahead of the pack. They are expected to use a lithium battery in the third generation Prius, expected in 2009. Nearly every major automaker is also in the technology race for a mass produced lithium auto battery, which could produce significant gains in hybrid fuel efficiency, and open the way for commercialization of plug-in hybrids and electric cars.

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