NASHVILLE -- Nissan Motor Co. has killed the hybrid version of its Pathfinder crossover as consumers look increasingly to traditional crossovers, SUVs and pickups.
The model lasted just over one year -- from October 2013 until January of this year, when Nissan stopped producing it in the face of falling U.S. gasoline prices.
The automaker has been selling off existing inventories since then, and it will not return as a 2016, Nissan spokesman Dan Bedore said.
The twin version of the vehicle -- the Infiniti QX60 Hybrid -- remains in production at Nissan’s Smyrna, Tenn., assembly plant and will be offered as a 2016 model.
A few U.S. Infiniti retailers are selling the hybrid, but most output is exported to China, Mexico and other world markets, an Infiniti spokesman said.
“The hybrid was never a big part of Pathfinder sales,” Bedore says. “Our emphasis has been on the traditionally powered Pathfinder, which is really the heart of the market for that segment.”
The product portfolio change will mean little to Nissan’s U.S. sales volume, which rose 13 percent last month over June 2014. U.S. sales of the Pathfinder totaled 7,168 in June, also a 13 percent increase from a year earlier.
The decision to drop the hybrid comes as U.S. consumers return to truck and SUV segments with a zeal not seen since before the 2007 economic crash.
As customers became more concerned about fuel economy and gasoline prices in the past decade, one automaker after another introduced hybrid versions of popular models, including a hybrid Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima, Kia Optima and Volkswagen Jetta.
But the hybrid options did not always wow consumers.
The two-wheel-drive Pathfinder Hybrid cost about $3,000 more than the comparable standard Pathfinder, but provided just four additional mpg, combined city and highway. Its fuel economy advantage on highway driving was only 2 mpg, according to EPA figures.
Bedore says that deleting the Pathfinder Hybrid does not signal a lack of interest in hybrid technology on Nissan’s part. Nissan is rumored to be planning a hybrid version of the smaller Rogue crossover, which Bedore declined to discuss.
“Hybrids make a lot of sense in other applications,” he says. “But not this particular one.”