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US is missing out: Nissan Rogue hybrid (but not for long)

One of the biggest success stories of 2015 in the US has been the Nissan Rogue (X-Trail in other markets). Whereas the previous generation in its first year (2007) sold only 30% as many units as the leader of the Compact SUV segment, the Honda CR-V, in 2015 so far it’s sold more than 80% as many units, and may yet finish the year in 4th place if it can overhaul the Chevy Equinox over the past 3 months of the year. By all rights, Nissan should be very happy with how the new Rogue has performed, however there is one version of the car that Nissan has so far denied that US, but which could cement the model’s success and make a true push for class leadership: the Nissan Rogue Hybrid.

The Hybrid version, sold in Japan since early 2015, uses the smaller, 2.0-liter engine from the Rogue’s European and Japanese version, the X-Trail, and marries that with a 30kW electric motor plus a lithium-ion battery from the larger Infiniti QX60 Hybrid cousin (as well as the now-discontinued Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid). Adding this model to the US line-up would give the Rogue another USP alongside its capacity to seat seven, and could attract a new type of consumer to the model – those looking to ferry their larger family and feel that they’re doing their bit for the environment, and at a much lower price point than the $50k+ most Mid-sized hybrid SUVs cost. It’d be the first hybrid Compact SUV model since the awful previous-gen Ford Escape, but since the Rogue actually seems like it’s properly engineered it would surely do much better sales-wise (anyone who has had the displeasure of riding in one of the Ford Escape Hybrid NYC taxis knows what I’m talking about).

Funny enough, just as I was putting this article together a quick Google-search revealed that over the past month Nissan has come out saying it’ll bring the Rogue Hybrid to the US in 2016. I guess they were listening 🙂 The bad news for Nissan is that it won’t have it all its way – its arch-nemesis, the 3rd-placed Toyota RAV4, will also come as a Hybrid model in 2016, and will no doubt borrow oily bits from its Prius cousin. The battle is yet to begin, but one winner is already known: the customer.