Japanese automaker Nissan has announced a sweeping restructuring of its global business as well as a push to introduce new and revised products across the world. The announcement comes as a combination of faltering sales and the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic puts pressure on the company’s finances. Part of its approach will be to refresh a number of models globally, and the company released a teaser video showing those vehicles in silhouette, only in profile with running lights. A couple of those models were very interesting and are likely to make their way to the U.S. market.
What’s on the Horizon?
The video, dubbed “Nissan Next: From A to Z,” shows a dozen different vehicles that Nissan expects to introduce as part of its plan. Here’s a rundown of what we know about some of the vehicles in the video, with a few that have new names you might not have heard before:
Nissan’s new electric crossover, the Ariya, is expected to arrive in 2021 and slot in above the Leaf in size, price and performance. The concept was introduced at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show and shown again at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. It features Nissan’s new corporate styling, 21-inch wheels, a dual-motor all-wheel-drive system, and it’s expected to deliver around 300 miles of maximum range.
The Armada, Nissan’s big three-row traditional SUV based on the Patrol, looks like it will be sticking around.
Nissan’s global mid-size pickup truck, the Navara, used to be a common vehicle with the global Frontier pickup. But the rest of the world has enjoyed a new Navara pickup for years now while the U.S. has soldiered on with the old Frontier. The new Frontier is teased in Nissan’s new video; however, it was done alongside a new Navara, suggesting the two may be different versions of a global pickup going forward. That fits with what we’ve heard about the next-generation Frontier, expected to show up in early 2021 and said to be sharing a number of Titan full-size pickup parts.
Nissan’s Versa-based hatchback, the Versa Note, eliminated in the U.S. in favor of the Versa-based Kicks, is still sold elsewhere in the world. It’s not likely to be coming back to the U.S, however, as the Kicks is doing just fine here in its place.
The Pathfinder three-row SUV built in Tennessee is overdue for a refresh.
The Qashqai is a compact crossover that we know in the U.S. as the Rogue Sport.
The Rogue compact SUV is slightly bigger than the Rogue Sport. We were supposed to see its next-generation model at April’s canceled 2020 New York International Auto Show. It will instead be unveiled in early June via an online streaming event.
The X-Trail is the global version of what we know as the Rogue.
The Nissan Terra — not to be confused with the ex-Xterra — is a large traditional SUV based off of the Navara pickup, which replaced the old-style Pathfinder when that model went to a front-wheel-drive crossover configuration. Aimed primarily at the Chinese and overseas markets, there’s no word on whether this model will be sold in the U.S., but given the continued voluminous sales of all things SUV and the coming reintroduction of the Ford Bronco, we have our fingers crossed.
The company’s more affordable Z sports car (as opposed to the outrageously expensive and exclusive GT-R) looks set to get a next-generation model. No details have been announced about the new vehicle officially, but speculation on several sites has suggested that it will be smaller, lighter and more retro-styled than the current model.
The company’s current 370Z hasn’t seen a significant update in years and has long been rumored to be on the chopping block as global interest in sports cars continues to wane. There’s no word on what the full name of the new Z car will be, but there are two possibilities based on its most likely engine — the 400-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 used in the Infiniti Q60 coupe. If Nissan sticks with what it’s always done using engine displacement as the moniker, it could once again be called the 300Z, a further nod to a retro theme. If they instead go with horsepower rating, look for the 400Z to show up.
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What’s on the Chopping Block?
The automaker, facing down a reported $6.2 billion loss for the fiscal year ending March 31, also unveiled a two-pronged restructuring plan, which aims to return Nissan to profitability over the next four years. Those two prongs involve reducing the company’s global footprint in both personnel, facilities and underperforming models (translation: layoffs and plant closures), and focusing instead on core products in core markets (canceling slow sellers).
What does this mean for North America? Expect to see some models go away, with Nissan “consolidating production around core models.” The company has two assembly plants in the U.S. and two in Mexico, and makes most of the products it sells here in them.
What might disappear in the U.S. as Nissan refocuses its attention and sales efforts? Our money would be on the low-volume stuff, such as the Versa subcompact, Maxima full-size sedan and, sadly, the just-refreshed but slow-selling Titan pickup. Making the case to keep the Titan would be the related NV200 commercial vans, which share a lot of underpinnings with the trucks, but if Nissan is serious about consolidating around its core products, the inability of the Titan to gain any traction or meaningful market share in the U.S. could mean its days are numbered.
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