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http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=businessNews&storyID=7474519

Nissan Chief: Hybrid Cars Make No Sense

Sat Jan 29, 2005 07:44 PM ET

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - The head of Nissan Motor Co., breaking ranks with some of his leading rivals, said on Saturday that building fuel-sipping hybrid vehicles makes little sense in today's world because of their high costs.

"They make a nice story, but they're not a good business story yet because the value is lower than their costs," said Nissan Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn.

Nissan will, in fact, start manufacturing a gas-electric hybrid version of its Altima sedan for the U.S. market in 2006.

But Ghosn said the model was only intended to help Japan's second-largest automaker comply with strict fuel economy and emissions standards in states like California, not because he expects it to be a money-maker.

Nissan will license some technology for the hybrid Altima from Toyota Motor Corp., which is the world leader in hybrid production along with Honda Motor Co. Ltd..

The hybrids made by Toyota and Honda are in high demand, but production levels are still relatively small.

Toyota plans to nearly double production of its hybrid Prius car for the U.S. market this year, with production totaling some 100,000 vehicles.

Ford Motor Co. is alone among U.S. automakers in producing mass-market hybrid models; Ford recently announced plans to introduce four new models between this year and 2008.

Ghosn's comments, which are likely to draw criticism from environmental groups, came in an address to the National Automobile Dealers Association, which opened its annual convention in New Orleans on Saturday.

In his speech, he noted that only about 88,000 of the 16.9 million light vehicles sold in the United States last year were hybrids, adding that they are still considered "niche" products and something way outside the automotive mainstream.

He also poured cold water on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, which many automakers see as the industry's next big technological breakthrough.

"The cost to build one fuel cell car is about $800,000. Do the math and you figure out that we will have to reduce the cost of that car by more than 95 percent in order to gain widespread marketplace acceptance," Ghosn said.

Ghosn, who is credited with a dramatic turnaround at Nissan, is poised to take over as chief executive at France's Renault SA in May.

His future role, simultaneously running operations at two major automakers, is thought to be an industry first.

Nissan -- owned 44 percent by Renault -- scored the biggest sales jump of any major car maker in the United States last year, with a 24 percent surge to 986,000 vehicles.
 

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Slang for "he thinks it's a bad idea". Pouring cold water on someone generally refers to waking them up and bringing them back to reality.
 

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I think that most vehicals would be better off being a hybrid. family cars mini vans and truck. cars and vans get the better mileage and trucks get some extra torque for off the line or up hill towing. But sports cars IMHO are no place to be putting hybrid tech. we can make plenty of power with out the electric motor assist. and being that weight is the bad guy, all the hybrid stuff adds too much mass ,complexity, and cost to a sports car to make any kind of sense. But i think the more daily drivers that are hybrid the better for all of us. Having both Lower emissons and better mileage is a good thing. just leave it out of sports cars.
 

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I disagree entirely. A hybrid drive system oriented towards performance can work quite well and Toyota is already headed in that direction with the Volta concept car. A hybrid drive train saves the most energy when the vehicle is under acceleration/deceleration cycles most of the time. That's because all of the braking energy that normally gets wasted as heat in instead recovered via regenerative braking and reused during the acceleration phase. Performance driving and road racing mostly consist of said acceleration/deceleration cycles. Current production hybrid drivetrains can't be evaluated on the merits of performance because they aren't designed for that purpose. For instance, the Prius only uses regen braking on the front wheels because they are the only ones attached to the motor/generator unit. That limits the amount of energy recovery under braking because of brake bias issues. As a matter of fact, the Prius only uses the regen brakes for very light braking, after which the standard hydraulic brake system takes over. A good portion of the Prius fuel economy comes simply from shutting off the engine during stops rather than idling. Driving both front and rear axles via electric power, as in the Volta, provides for huge differences in regen braking performance as the braking bias during regen mode can be managed by the control electronics. It also allows for elimination of the front to rear drive shaft and transaxle and simplifies variable front/rear torque bias (allowing for awd traction control and vehicle stability control).

The Prius/Civic hybrids have to be evaluated for what they are-low cost, high efficiency, normal driving, standard looking basic transport.

Not that I entirely buy the whole hybrid thing. I object to them on the general grounds of complexity. You inherit all the problems of a standard internal combustion engine powerplant along with the added complexity of an electric drivetrain. Being primarily a buyer of used vehicles, I wouldn't touch one of these things with a ten foot pull unless the resale value is so low that they're practically free. This may turn out to be the case.

I myself think that a huge percentage of the driving public would be well served with a proper pure electric vehicle. This would take care of the huge number of people that sit in traffic for an hour commute that covers twenty miles or better yet the ones that go through an exhaust system every couple of years because their car never fully warms up in the ten minute trip across the neighborhood. Besides which, in the proper application, electric can be lots of fun. Do a google search and read up on the TZero and check out the guy drag racing electric vehicles.

And as a side note, someone needs to rename this forum. It's not for discussion of hybrid electric/gas vehicles, rather it's for custom mid-engine cars using mr2 parts, namely the LaBala.
 

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erwendell said:
Slang for "he thinks it's a bad idea". Pouring cold water on someone generally refers to waking them up and bringing them back to reality.
Or putting out a hot fire. Or chilling out a warm idea. And i think for the hybrids to be realistic they need a major breakthrough in battery technology.
 
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