Right as the new, gasoline-powered Altima is hitting showrooms, Nissan is showing its hybrid version of the new sedan. Like the Toyota Camry Hybrid, Nissan's electric motor can propel the Altima at low speeds with the gas engine switched off. Of course, it also provides additional assistance under hard acceleration and regenerative braking.
The hybrid version uses the same 2.5-liter four-cylinder as in the regular Altima, rated at 158 hp. The sealed nickel-metal hydride battery pack operates at just under 250 volts, and will provide up to 40 hp of assist. Estimated EPA fuel economy for the CVT-only Altima Hybrid is 41 city/36 highway. As with most hybrids, the biggest economy gains occur under urban conditions--the gas-only, CVT-equipped four-cylinder Altima sedan gets 34 mpg on the highway, but just 26 mpg in the city.
Unfortunately, when the Tennessee-built Altima Hybrid hits dealerships early in 2007, it will only be available in the eight so-called "California emissions" states: California (of course), Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. If you happen to live somewhere else and just have to own one, keep in mind that there's nothing stopping you from buying one and registering it wherever you please.