Diesel Nissans Unlikely In U.S, Plug-In Hybrid On The Way?

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2013 Nissan Altima

2013 Nissan Altima

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Japanese automakers haven't embraced diesels in quite the same way as some other companies have done.

Even in Europe, where diesels are popular, the range is limited. That's perhaps not surprising, given the unique demands in the crowded cities of the Japanese home market--making cleaner gasoline engines and hybrids much more attractive.

The American market is suspicious of diesels too, which makes Nissan's reluctance to bring diesels to U.S. shores fairly unsurprising.

Instead, says Car and Driver, Nissan will work towards more electric cars, but more imminently, hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

"In the U.S., diesel is very limited,” explains Pierre Loing, vice-president for product strategy and planning at Nissan. He cites fuel cost and availability as two main factors, as well as government regulations making diesel engines much more expensive to produce.

Hybrids will be the main focus, with an Altima hybrid arriving in due course, and others in the pipeline. "Plug-in hybrid technology is a promising path. Clearly we are working on it," said Loing.

In the meantime, Nissan, and Renault-Nissan president Carlos Ghosn, is still bullish about the Leaf. Nissan aims to sell 22,000 Leafs in the U.S. this year, around the same as it sold worldwide in 2011.

As the new Tennessee-based plant comes online at the end of 2012, the extra supply could see Leaf sales rise to as much as 60,000 in 2013, in the U.S. alone.

With rising electric car sales and a raft of new hybrids on the way, it seems the case for diesel engines in the Nissan range is looking a little weak.


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Comments (3)
  1. I love diesels but for Nissan, why bother? Stick to the pure EV position is what I'd do.

    This article has a couple of inaccurate statements though. The first, "Even in Europe, where diesels are popular, the range is limited." is not true. Most diesel cars have a 500 plus mile range per tank of fuel. Also, there is really no availability issue with diesel fuel. It is very plentiful and very easy to find.

    That said, even though I like diesels a lot, I urge everyone to pick the right tool for the job. If your daily routine is like the average US citizen, the full EV is your best bet for low cost driving. Modern diesels are best for 60 plus miles in a stretch.

  2. @Jim: I believe author Ingram meant that Japanese makers' range of diesel offerings in Europe is limited compared to the many different diesels available from European makers. That's how I read it, in any case.

  3. Sorry, yes, I should have clarified - range of models, rather than driving range. Japanese manufacturers have only a handful of diesels on in their respective ranges, compared to the European makers.

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