Talk about hedging your bets. About the only alternative to the internal combustion engine ("ICE," to those in the know) that Nissan does not admit to working on, is a windmill-powered car. (There I go again, spilling trade secrets.)
This is a pretty savvy business decision on Nissan's part. Toyota and Honda
Companies are generally close-mouthed about the size of their royalty payments, but your average hybrid version of an ICE vehicle already adds about $5,000 to the base cost. As an educated guess, I suspect that any price increase related to royalties will pale beside the hybrid premium.
For now, Nissan can bide its time, watch the alternative-to-the-ICE-market develop, and then decide where to best place its capital expenditure bets: on its own hybrid technology if the new Altimas sell like hotcakes; on clean diesels, if not; or on fuel cells.
Rich Smith is not a certified "car guy." Before he bought his truck last year, he consulted the experts on The Motley Fool's Buying and Maintaining a Car discussion board. You can find him most days hanging out there -- near, but not talking with, the cool kids -- just nodding a lot.