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With Krom line, Nissan goes wild on accessories

Mon, 20 Apr 2009

As if the new Cube weren't accessory-oriented enough, Nissan North America also is launching a U.S. business unit that will push accessories even more.

Nissan's Specialty Vehicles Group will create model variations with thousands of dollars of accessories and extra vehicle features.

"Young customers want individualization," said Patrick Steiner, Nissan's director of specialty vehicles and accessories sales and marketing. "This is a way of expressing themselves."

The group's trim packages will be branded under the name Krom (pronounced "chrome"). Nissan's existing specialty effort, known as Nismo, will continue in the new specialty group, focused on performance packages on such models as the 370Z.

The first Krom model will appear as a high-end version of the Nissan Cube, which goes on sale May 9. Steiner estimates that the Cube Krom will represent as much as 10 percent of Cube sales.

Nissan is also considering Krom versions of the Altima and Sentra, he says.

The youth-oriented Cube already offers an accessorizing bonanza to Nissan retailers. The boxy entry-level crossover comes with a menu of 40 options. Buyers may pick and choose among colored interior accent lighting, custom checkerboard grilles, chrome mirror covers, rear roof spoiler and other features.

But some of those accessories sell individually for less than $50. While the base-model Cube, sans accessories, will sell for $14,685, the Cube Krom will sell for $20,065. Both prices include destination charges.

Accessorizing is heating up as a competitive front for automakers. The Cube follows the accessory-oriented Scion brand, and Kia Motors Corp. recently launched a crossover called the Soul, which is offered with 50 accessories.

The Cube Krom will have a larger audio and subwoofer speaker system, different interior trim materials, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, iPod and Bluetooth hands-free phone system interface, interior accent lighting, different front and rear fascias and other upgrades.

"Dealers can sell it either way," Steiner said.

"They can let customers decide what accessories they want, or they can have the whole Krom package come factory installed. Many of the Cube's accessory options are inexpensive. You would have to add a lot of individual items to get the sale price up to the Krom level.

"Not every model will lend itself to this," Steiner said. "It will depend on the model."

By Lindsay Chappell- Automotive News