It might be celebrating a global total of 15,000 all-electric Nissan Leafs since the model was launched last year, but Nissan isn’t planning to keep its plug-in technology inside pure electric cars, it has revealed today. 

Talking at an event in Yokohama, Japan earlier, Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn confirmed that Nissan has been working on a plug-in hybrid model which it plans to bring to market in 2015.

That’s one year later than the expected 2014 Nissan Altima Hybrid, which will be based on the new Xtronic CVT hybrid system found in the 2012 infiniti M35h.

That means that Nissan’s first plug-in hybrid will most likely be a marriage of its new high-mileage hybrid-CVT system and Nissan’s pre-existing Leaf technology. 

The big question however, is which vehicle Nissan will introduce as a plug-in hybrid. 

Let’s look at the clues.

2010 Nissan Altima Hybrid

2010 Nissan Altima Hybrid

Firstly, Nissan isn’t offering a hybrid Altima for the 2012 model year, but is rumored to be working on an Altima hybrid to conincide with the fifth generation Altima launch in 2013. 

Arguably, It makes sense that a newly redesigned Altima hybrid could be built with the expectation that a plug-in option be offered later on. 

Secondly, if Nissan wants to compete in the plug-in hybrid market, it needs a car that can compete directly with the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid. An Altima-sized sedan fits the bill perfectly. 

Thirdly, a mid-sized car is a lot easier to turn into a successful plug-in hybrid than a compact or sub-compact car. While Nissan’s Leaf is an example of what can be achieved when a car is designed exclusively as a plug-in vehicle, we think Nissan would be hard pushed to successfully build a plug-in hybrid offering more than a token all-electric range in such a small form factor. 

As part of the announcement, Ghosn also reiterated the joint goal of the Renault-Nissan alliance to sell over 1.5 million plug-in electric vehicles by the end of the 2016/17 financial year.


Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook and Twitter.