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Nissan future products: Focus is on technology

Fri, 19 Aug 2011 00:00:00 -0700

Nissan Division will be focused for the next few years not just on how to move its product line forward but also how to produce it less expensively.

As the company embarks on a multiyear wave of new technologies and a brand-marketing campaign focused on innovation, it also is looking to bring down manufacturing costs through platform sharing, modular components and common parts.

The first example of this new process is the redesigned Versa sedan, which will be assembled in Mexico. Sales begin this fall. The car was developed on Nissan's new global V platform.

In the next 18 months Nissan will update most of its vehicles.

Versa: The redesigned 2012 Versa appears this September, riding on the new global V platform that uses 20 percent fewer platform parts than its predecessor. Its new 1.6-liter engine is expected to get 33 mpg in combined city and highway driving.

A redesigned Versa hatchback with a 1.8-liter engine follows early next year as a 2013 model.

Sentra: The Sentra long has been an also-ran in the compact market behind the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. Nissan hopes to correct that next summer with the redesigned 2013 Sentra. The exterior styling will bear more family resemblance to the Altima and Maxima. An emphasis is being placed on sportiness, along with giving the car more horsepower and a more upscale interior. The company wants to move away from price-sensitive consumers.

Altima: Nissan's volume leader will launch its fifth generation next year, redesigned as a 2013 model. The Altima hybrid version has been discontinued, at least temporarily. That hybrid system was purchased from Toyota. Nissan's next hybrid system is engineered in-house.

NV200: Nissan's coup in winning the exclusive contract to supply all New York City taxis kicked its plans for a small U.S. van into high gear. The compact high-roofed NV200, which is already being sold in Europe, will be built in Mexico and reach U.S. showrooms in 2013, but only for dealers who participate in Nissan commercial truck business.

An electric version of the 200 also is planned after 2013, but it is unclear whether that version also will be exclusive to Nissan commercial vehicle dealerships.

Maxima: The Maxima is freshened for 2012 with a new front grille and rear lights and the addition of a white instrument cluster inside. The model will be restyled in the fall of 2013 for the 2014 model year.

Leaf: The year-old Leaf electric car continues through the 2012 model year mostly unchanged. Nissan has added standard heating elements for the battery, seats, steering wheel and outside mirrors.

Leaf coupe: An electric sporty coupe variant of the Leaf platform is under study for the 2014 or 2015 timeframe.

370Z: The 370Z sports car is unchanged for 2012. It's due for a freshening in the 2013 model year.

GT-R: Nissan's pattern to date has been to update its high-end street racer with additional power, rather than styling or chassis changes. Next year will be no different. The 2012 GT-R will put out 530 hp, up from 485 in 2011.

Rogue: U.S. production of the Rogue will begin in Smyrna, Tenn., in early 2013, timed to coincide with a 2013-model redesign.

Frontier: Nissan plans a restyling of the Frontier for the 2013 model year, after the pickup's production is moved from Smyrna to Canton, Miss.

Quest: The Quest was redesigned for the 2011 model year. A freshening is expected for 2014.

Juke: The Juke will be refreshed in the 2013 model year.

Xterra: Nissan intends to let the Xterra, now 12 years old, die gracefully over the next two to three model years because of a shift away from low-mpg truck-based SUVs. But Nissan still will move production from Smyrna to Canton early in 2012.

Cube: The Cube remains almost unchanged for 2012, except for new options. Nissan will drop the cube-shaped model after the 2013 model year.

Titan: Nissan has good excuses for taking so long to bring out its next-generation full-sized work pickup, which had been scheduled for the 2012 model year. Midway into the redesign project, its new product-sharing partner, Chrysler, backed out of the deal, leaving Nissan scrambling.

Indications now are that the truck will hit showrooms in the 2014 model year. The new Titan will offer an optional four-cylinder diesel engine, supplied by Cummins, that gives the big truck a fuel-economy rating upwards of 28 mpg.

Murano: Nissan is considering a hybrid version of the Murano after it is re-engineered for the 2013 model year.

Armada: The full-sized Armada SUV was last refreshed in the 2008 model year. A redesign will coincide with the Titan's in the 2014 model year.

Pathfinder: A redesign for the Pathfinder is scheduled for the 2013 model year.

By Lindsay Chappell- Automotive News