Okay, much like when GM was bashing its own hybrid technology last October, Nissan now seems to be openly schizophrenic with its relationship with hybrid vehicles.
On the one hand, Nissan executives are “celebrating” the limited introduction of their New Altima Hybrid in January (if you didn’t know, it’s only being made available in California, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, Maine and New Jersey) with quotes like this from Dominique Thormann, senior vice president of administration and finance for Nissan North America as quoted in the Detroit Free Press:
"Hybrids are certainly not a very viable economic proposition," Thormann said. "It's still a loss-making proposition."
Boy, that certainly does sound like a company that just wants to do the bare minimum needed to meet their Zero Emission Vehicle requirements in the states that have adopted the California smog-forming standards on autos. But then comes the announcement this week that Nissan has a whole “Nissan Green Program 2010.” Included in that plan was something we’ve heard rumored before. Nissan is going to forego a continued relationship with Toyota and its Hybrid Synergy Drive, and instead forge out on its own bringing its own hybrid technology to market in 2010.
Okay, you might be able to explain that one away, saying that they need to have an “image hybrid” on the market and would rather it be something they could claim is independent of Toyota. It’s a bit of a stretch, if they’re worried about the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of a standard hybrid drivetrain, it seems like they’d be just as well off sticking with Toyota and be done with it.
What makes even less sense, however, is to go even further with hybrids and say they plan to “Accelerate development of plug-in hybrid technology.” So they don’t like hybrids, they don’t think they’ll make money, but they’ll go ahead and speed up development of the more complicated and expensive system?!?!
These mixed messages from Nissan, closely mirror GM’s own recent hybrid comments and developments, especially the new “plugin love” both companies seem to share (not that there's anything wrong with loving plugins, as long as your serious about it). I find that their actions akin to my five-year-old when I’m negotiating with him on his spinach nuggets (that are actually quite tasty…really). With a chocolate chip cookie in the offing, Gus attacks his nuggets, proudly saying “I could eat a MILLION nuggets, Dad!” However, after about 1½, the negotiations begin. “How about if I just finish this one?” “If I finish two, can I get half a cookie?” My answer is always the same, “you don’t get desert until you’ve cleared your plate.”
All these proclamations by Nissan and GM could lead to real changes in these companies’ product lines, and their contribution to global warming pollution. But these companies should not get the green credentials they now see as a vital part of their overall corporate image unless they make significant contributions toward putting a substantial number of fuel efficient vehicles on the road.
So, Nissan, and GM for that matter, keep eating. You’ve still got a bunch of nuggets left on your plate. And while you’re at it, it really doesn’t help you any to keep complaining about how the hybrids taste.
Posted by: ScottN
P.S. This is likely the last blog for us this year. So have a happy 8th night of Chanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Joyous Kwan Tzu, Featful Festivus, or just enjoy your winter!