Exec says Nissan is committed to sedans
Nissan unveiled the refreshed 2019 Nissan Maxima and 2019 Nissan Murano at its L.A. Auto Show press conference on Wednesday. In addition to showing subtly revised sheetmetal, Nissan also had an announcement to make. The brand plans to show a new concept vehicle at the 2019 Detroit auto show.
“This January in Detroit Nissan will host a world debut of a new concept that breaks new ground in design, packaging, and of course Nissan performance,” Nissan’s senior vice president of global design Alfonso Albaisa said at the press conference. On the screen behind him, a slide further specified the vehicle would be electric.
The bit about packaging could hint at a crossover. Nearly a year ago, Nissan brought out the Xmotion concept (pictured above) to the 2018 Detroit show. That concept was a rugged-looking crossover about the size of a Rogue and packed with technology. Nissan coyly never gave any details about the Xmotion’s powertrain, though it’s not hard to imagine a battery pack and an electric motor (or two) hiding beneath its futuristic bodywork. Perhaps the upcoming concept will be an evolution of the Xmotion. Alternatively, it could be yet another crack at the IMx concept that’s rumored to be greenlit for production. Nissan first showed the IMx last year in Tokyo and brought out the updated IMx Kuro concept to Geneva this year. Then again, it could also be something entirely new.
In light of recent events, Nissan also took the opportunity to go on the record saying it remains committed to cars and sedans.
“[The refreshed Murano] is the jewel of our expanding SUV and crossover portfolio,” Dan Mohnke, Nissan’s senior vice president of U.S. operations and sales and marketing, said at the start of the conference. “But we also believe in sedans, which remain a huge segment in this market. Nissan is investing in sedans because more than 6 million Americans still buy cars, including 3 million traditional sedans, and we intend to serve that narrow market that is the sweet spot for millennials and Gen-X buyers.”
The remarks were likely made in response to GM’s announcement earlier this week that it will discontinue six cars, including five sedans, and lay off 15 percent of its salaried workforce. Nissan’s declaration appears bold when you consider FCA, Ford, and GM have all begun shifting their lineups in favor of SUVs and crossovers, and even Toyota is considering cuts to poor-performing cars in the U.S. But GM CEO Mary Barra was also bullish on the importance of cars prior to this week and has since drawn criticism for the company’s sudden about-face. If Nissan does eventually decide to cut cars, taking such a firm stance could backfire.