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Nissan steps into the hybrid waters

Nissan steps into the hybrid waters

The much-anticipated Nissan Altima Hybrid was unveiled today at the Orange County Auto Show, marking Nissan's first hybrid vehicle and a potentially strong competitor to Toyota's Camry Hybrid. Nissan offered some impressive stats with its new car, notably a total 198 horsepower rating for the electric motor and 2.5-liter four cylinder engine, 41 mpg city and 36 mpg on the highway, along with a 700 mile range. That horsepower rating, along with the electric motor's immediate torque, also suggests a car that's going to leap right off the line and hold strong acceleration all the way up to freeway speeds. Nissan is using a similar hybrid system to Toyota's Synergy system, meaning the Altima can travel under electric power only at low speeds. All the good cabin tech, such as Bluetooth and navigation, is optional. Launching at the Orange County Auto Show is a bizarre choice for a car that won't be available until early next year. The company could have exercised just a little restraint and waited for the Los Angeles Auto Show at the beginning of December. But the launch location makes sense in that Nissan will offer the Altima Hybrid only in California and the seven other states that use California's emissions standards.