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    William Maley

    What Could Possibly Be Next for the Z

    You would think that Nissan has forgotten about the 370Z, considering not much has been done to it in some time. But the Japanese automaker wants to make it clear they haven't forgotten about their sports car. They have been quietly working on the next-generation model.
    Last night, Nissan introduced the Z Proto which is a thinly-veiled concept of the next-generation model, possibly named 400Z due out within the next few years.
    You will instantly recognize the Z Proto as being part of the Z family. Nissan's designers draw quite heavily from the original 240Z up front as evidenced by the hood, teardrop-shaped LED headlamps (only available on Japanese-market 240), and square lower grille. The side profile also has another nod to the 240Z with the cabin pushed far back. In the back, echoes of the 90's 300ZX with a sloping roofline and rear light treatment.
    The interior looks production ready with a digital gauge cluster, dished steering wheel, sport seats with yellow contrasts, and a six-speed manual. The only callback to older Z models is a three-gauge binnacle sitting on top of the dash.
    Nissan is keeping mum on the two important parts of the Z Proto - engine and chassis. On the former, Nissan says the concept uses a twin-turbo V6 - possibly being the 3.0L used in the Q50 and Q60. This engine produces either 300 or 400 horsepower depending on the version. We may see a smaller engine option being available on the production model.
    According to Nissan, "work is now underway to synchronize the power with the grace and control that has defined the Z for the past 50 years." Hopefully, more details begin to spill out before its debut.
     
    Source: Nissan
    Press Release is on Page 2


    New Nissan Z Proto looks to the future, inspired by its past
    NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The new Z is coming.
    Nissan has unveiled the Z Proto, signalling the company's intent to launch a new generation of the legendary Z sports car. Shown at an event beamed around the world from the Nissan Pavilion in Yokohama, Japan, the prototype features new design inside and out, as well as an upgraded powertrain with a manual transmission.
    In Franklin, just south of Nashville, hundreds of Z owners and enthusiasts watched the Z Proto's Yokohama debut on big screens from their vehicles in a socially distanced event– part of a weeklong schedule of activities during the 33rd annual International Z Convention (ZCON).
    First hinted at in a brand teaser video, "Nissan A-Z," shown in May, the Nissan Z Proto pays full respect to 50 years of Z heritage. At the same time, it's a thoroughly modern sports car.
    "The Z represents the joy of driving in its purest form and has helped shape Nissan's DNA as a passionate, innovative challenger," said Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida. "Ever since the first generation, it has captured the hearts of car enthusiasts all over the world. That's why we're so excited today to be able to say to them: Yes, the next one is coming!"
    Z Proto is one of 10 new vehicles that Nissan is showing for the U.S. in 20 months, along with top-sellers like Sentra and Rogue, and innovative new models like the all-electric Ariya crossover.
    "The United States is home to one of the most devoted and enthusiastic Z communities in the world, with nearly 1.35 million total sales over the model's 50-year history," said Mike Colleran, senior vice president, Nissan U.S. Marketing and Sales. "With new models like Sentra and Rogue opening new eyes to our brand, Z Proto is our loudest statement yet that Nissan will continue to bring vehicles that thrill to U.S. showrooms."
    Z Proto exterior: past meets future
    Sporting a bright yellow pearlescent paint – a tribute to a popular paint scheme on both the first-generation 240Z and the 300ZX – the Z Proto boasts a fresh, attractive exterior design with a silhouette that communicates respect to the original model.
    Using a theme that combines elements of previous generations while also projecting futurism was challenging, said Alfonso Albaisa, head of design at Nissan.
    "Our designers made countless studies and sketches as we researched each generation and what made them a success," Albaisa said. "Ultimately, we decided the Z Proto should travel between the decades, including the future."
    The shape of the hood and the canted, teardrop-shaped LED headlights are both unmistakable reminders of the original Z. The rectangular grille dimensions are similar to the current model, although the grille fins nod to the past. The form continues to exude both sportiness and elegance.
    "The LED headlights have two half-circles that hark back to the Japan market-only 240ZG of the 70s," Albaisa explained. "The ZG has clear dome lenses over the headlight buckets, which under light give off two circular reflections over each headlight. We liked that unique characteristic and discovered that it naturally fit with the Z's identity."
    The link to the original Z is most striking when viewing the Z Proto from the side. The roofline flows from the nose to the squared-off rear to create a distinctive first-generation Z profile whose rear edge was slightly lower than the front fender height giving the Z its unique posture. The signature transition from the rear quarter glass to the low-slung position of the rear tail adds to the effect.
    The rear takes inspiration from the 300ZX taillights, reinterpreted for the modern world. Set within a rectangular black section that runs across the rear and wraps around the outer edges, the LED taillights convey a sharp glow.
    Lightweight carbon fiber treatments on the side skirts, front lower lip and rear valance ensure nimble performance. 19-inch alloy wheels and dual exhausts complete the Z Proto's striking road presence.
    Z Proto interior: modern tech with a vintage touch
    Designed to fit driver and passenger like a glove, the Z Proto's cabin seamlessly blends modern technology with vintage Z touches.
    The interior design team sought advice from professional motorsports legends to give the Z Proto an ideal sports car cabin, both for road and track. This can be seen in the Z's instrumentation. All vital information is found in the 12.3-inch digital meter display and arranged to help the driver grasp it at a glance, such as the redline shift point at the twelve o-clock position.
    The new, deep dish steering wheel offers the driver quick access controls without losing its vintage aesthetic.
    Yellow accents are found throughout the cabin, including stitching on the instrument panel. The seats feature special accent piping and layered seat material to create depth.
    Sports car joy: an exhilarating, dynamic performer
    The original Z was built to bring the joy and excitement of sports car ownership to as many people as possible.
    "The Z has always been a strong dynamic performer, making it easy for customers to enjoy its capabilities and feel as connected as possible to the car," said Hiroshi Tamura, chief product specialist of the Z Proto. "This has been true through all its generations, and this is what drives our passion to innovate and challenge the norm."
    Each new generation had a more powerful engine, although the Z is about more than power increases.
    "Z is more than just powerful and agile," Tamura continued. "It is designed to create a connection with the driver, for the car to be a 'dance partner' for their on-road adventures."
    Make no mistake though, the Z Proto packs a powerful punch. Under the elongated hood is an enhanced V6 twin-turbocharged engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. As a prototype, work is now underway to synchronize the power with the grace and control that has defined the Z for the past 50 years.
    "Nissan is transforming its business," said Uchida. "This summer, we unveiled the ground breaking all-electric Nissan Ariya crossover, which represents the future of mobility. Even as we open this new chapter, the Z, its heritage and passion, express who we are and has been shaping our DNA for over fifty years."
    Nissan Z Proto Specifications
    Z Proto specifications*
    Engine
    V6 twin turbo
    Transmission
    6-speed manual
    (an automatic option is also in development)
    Length
    172.5 inches
    Width
    72.8 inches
    Height
    51.6 inches
    Wheel and tire size
    Front: 255/40R19
    Rear: 285/35R19

    William Maley

    Will Be Arriving in the U.S. Late Next Year with a $40,000 Price tag

    The past year is one that Nissan would like to forget. Their former CEO is arrested and then escapes to Lebanon. Shareholders are angry at the new leadership. Sales have been cratering and other issues. But the automaker is trying to get itself out of the hole by launching 10 new models in the next 20 months. The next model has been revealed this week - the 2022 Ariya EV.
    A compact SUV, the Ariya certainly looks futuristic with distinctive sculpting along the side, new "shield"-style front insert, and flowing roofline. Inside, Nissan goes for a minimalist approach with little brightwork and a row of touch-capacitive controls for the climate system that disappear when the vehicle is turned off. Two 12.3-inch screens serve as the instrument cluster and infotainment system.
    There will be two electric powertrains on offer for the Ariya,
    Single electric motor providing 215 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque, front-wheel drive Dual electric motors producing a total output of 389 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque, e-4ORCE all-wheel-drive Both powertrains will come standard with a 63.0-kWh battery pack, while a larger 87.0-kWh pack is optional. Nissan claims that the single electric motor paired with 87-kWh pack will achieve a max range of 300 miles - and that is based on the EPA cycle. No information was provided on recharge times.
    The Ariya will also come with Nissan's next-generation of ProPilot driver-assistance system called ProPilot 2.0. It will allow for hands-free driving in certain circumstances and can change lanes.
    Japan will be the first market to get the Ariya sometime in mid-2021. The U.S. won't see it until the end of 2021.
    Source: Nissan
    Press Release is on Page 2


    Nissan’s product transformation continues with Ariya, a 100 percent electric crossover for a new era
    The next step of Nissan’s transformation is here with an all-new EV that delivers driving excitement, confidence, comfort and connectivity; set to go on sale in U.S. in 2021 with a $40,000 starting price NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Nissan today introduced the all-new Nissan Ariya, an electric crossover SUV that lets customers travel up to approximately 300 miles per charge (preliminary Nissan estimate for long-range 2WD model) while enjoying greater driving excitement, confidence, comfort, and connectivity.
    Its debut marks a key milestone in the Nissan NEXT transformation initiative, a four-year plan building on Nissan's reputation for innovation, craftsmanship, customer-focus and quality, alongside an ongoing cultural transformation. As the company's first all-electric crossover SUV, the Ariya embodies the company's vision to enrich people's lives.
    Representing the pinnacle of Nissan's technologies and design, the 100% electric Nissan Ariya debuted during a digital event in Yokohama. Ariya promises powerful acceleration and smooth, quiet operation and advanced driver assistance and connectivity technology– wrapped in a sophisticated yet simple exterior design with a spacious, lounge-like interior.
    CEO Makoto Uchida and Chief Operating Officer Ashwani Gupta unveiled the Ariya to a global audience during a livestreamed event at the new Nissan Pavilion in Yokohama, Japan.
    "The Ariya, a key model in Nissan's plan to roll out 10 new models in 20 months, demonstrates our commitment to meeting customer demand for crossovers with the most advanced electrified, automated and connected technologies," Gupta said. "The company expects sales of its EVs and e-POWER electrified models to be more than 1 million units a year by the end of fiscal 2023. The Ariya will play a significant role in attaining that goal."
    Nissan also aims to introduce advanced driver assistance technologies in more than 20 models in 20 markets, and to have sold more than 1.5 million vehicles equipped with these systems in that same period.
    The all-new Nissan Ariya is scheduled to go on sale in Japan in mid-2021, followed by the U.S. and Canada later in the year. U.S. pricing will start around $40,000.
    Powerful performance for a wide range of needs
    Nissan was the first automaker to introduce a mass market electric vehicle with the Nissan LEAF in 2010, which has resulted in nearly 500,000 sales to date. Building on Nissan's strength as an EV pioneer, the Ariya takes the powerful performance and capabilities of zero-emission vehicles to the heart of the electric vehicle market.
    The car's all-electric drivetrain combines excellent power delivery, charging capabilities and range. Customers can choose from multiple configurations to meet their individual needs. These include two-wheel-drive and new "e-4ORCE" all-wheel drive versions, as well as two different battery sizes. The e-4ORCE all-wheel control system balances the powerful performance with a smooth, comfortable ride and all-weather capability. The system's twin electric motors provide balanced, assured handling with sports car-level power.
    Advanced design and technology for stress-free driving
    Ariya is also the most advanced embodiment of Nissan Intelligent Mobility in a car to date.
    Drivers will feel more confident and less stressed thanks to the available, next-generation ProPILOT Assist 2.0 advanced driver assistance system that uses driver attention monitoring to enable hands-off single-lane highway operation. Ariya will also offer e-Pedal, which allows the driver to start, accelerate and decelerate using only the accelerator pedal.
    Standard across the Ariya lineup is Nissan Safety Shield® 360, a suite of six advanced active safety and driver-assist technologies. This includes Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Rear Automatic Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and High Beam Assist. Ariya will also feature Nissan's Intelligent Around View Monitor, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning and other technologies aimed at making the drive easier and more enjoyable.
    A human-machine interface lets customers use natural speech to adjust car settings. Over-the-air firmware updates keep the Ariya feeling fresh and exciting. The Ariya also includes Amazon's Alexa to help customers simplify and organize their lives.
    Ariya will also feature wireless Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ standard to help drivers seamlessly integrate their smartphone into their vehicle experience.
    Spacious, flat-floor cabin
    The Ariya's striking looks represent Nissan's new design language, Timeless Japanese Futurism. It is characterized by a distinctive Japanese approach, conveyed in a simple yet powerfully modern way.
    Nissan's designers took advantage of the car's new EV platform, which allows for a flat floor, and its compact climate control components to give the Ariya a very spacious cabin. The lounge-like interior, featuring thin profile Zero Gravity seats, provides a welcoming and comfortable environment for driver and passengers alike.
    "Nissan was a pioneer in the world of mass-market electric vehicles a decade ago with LEAF, setting the standard for affordable, mass-market electric vehicles. We expect nothing less for the new Nissan Ariya," said Gupta. "While the driving exhilaration of its acceleration and torque levels is undeniable, the Ariya offers balanced, customer-centric technology that is perfect for everyday use."
    Nissan Ariya Key Specifications
    Passenger configuration
    2-row, 5-passenger
    Drive configuration
    Front-wheel drive or e-4ORCE all-wheel drive
    Platform
    Newly developed Alliance CMF-EV
    Powertrain
    Single (FWD) / dual (e-4ORCE AWD) electric motor, Externally Excited Synchronous Motor (EESM)
    Battery capacity
    63 kWh / 87 kWh usable (total 65 kWh / 90 kWh)
    Thermal management
    Active battery management system
    Estimated range
    Up to approximately 300 miles (preliminary Nissan estimate)
    Level 2 charging
    Up to 7.2 kW
    DC charging type
    CCS standard up to 130 kW
    Output
    160 kW – 290 kW
    Torque
    221 lb-ft – 443 lb-ft
    Wheelbase
    109.3 in.
    Overall length
    182.9 in.
    Overall width
    74.8 in.
    Overall height
    65.4 in. – 65.7 (depending on roof rack)
    Cargo volume
    16.5 cu ft (FWD)
    14.6 (e-4ORCE)
    Wheel size
    19-inch or 20-inch
    Tire size
    235/55R19 or 255/45R20
    Available interior features
    Lounge-like space created by flat, open floor and slim-profile Zero Gravity seats; large, minimalist instrument panel with integrated capacitive haptic switches; innovative center storage box with fold-out tray, adjustable center console
    Available Advanced Driver Assist (ADAS) Technology
    ProPILOT Assist 2.0 featuring hands-off highway operation with Driver Monitoring System
    Available safety technology
    Nissan Safety Shield® 360 with Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist and Rear Automatic Braking
    Model configurations
    Ariya standard and long range (FWD)
    Ariya standard range e-4ORCE and long range e-4ORCE (AWD)
    * NOTE: All specifications are as of July 2020 and are subject to homologation. Model names, features and specifications may vary by market. Subject to final validation.

    William Maley

    NV possibly now means "Never Vanning"

    Nearly a decade ago, Nissan launched an ambitious assault on the U.S. commercial van market with the launch of their NV vans. It started with the Titan-dervived, body-on-frame NV1500/2500/3500 vans. This was followed by the unibody NV200 van, which was for a time the "Taxi of Tommorow" in New York City. But Nissan is reportedly throwing in the towel.
    Automotive News has learned from a source that it will end production of their commercial vans. No time frame was given.
    "We don't want to go more in the business of vans in the U.S. We will exit," said the source.
    Nissan spokesman Brian Brockman declined to comment about the future of the commercial vans, only saying in a statement that the automaker " is considering a number of opportunities to streamline the product portfolio and drive efficiencies within our manufacturing operations."
    When the NV lineup was launched in 2009, Nissan was hoping to steal away sales from the Detroit Three. At the time, Ford and GM had 97 percent of the large van segment. The NV was positioned as being a more modern option compared to the Ford E-Series and Chevrolet Express/GMC Savana. It was more comfortable with adjustable seats, taller ceiling for easier access to the cargo area, and pre-drilled holes in the body to allow owners to add interior racks easily. But Nissan wasn't able to make decent inroads into this market, only achieving around an eight percent share in the marketplace.
    What was the NV's downfall?
    Brand Loyalty to the American brands Using a modified Titan platform for the larger vans comprised them in urban areas with their extended front nose, and cargo capacity. "A third of the vehicle is dedicated to the engine and passenger compartment instead of cargo. The van takes up more real estate for the same amount of cargo space," explained Sam Fiorani, vice president at AutoForecast Solutions. NV200 Taxis were dinged by taxi companies poor ride quality, difficulty entering/exiting the van for elderly passengers, and increasing maintenance costs. Proved to a be a difficult sale to fleet buyers due to the automaker lacking the numerous combinations of light-trucks that the Detroit three can offer. Trucks and vans work hand in hand to attract sales in the commercial market. "Chevrolet and Ford can be everything to everybody," said Tyler Slade, operating partner at Tim Dahle Nissan Southtowne in Salt Lake City. "When we went to some of these fleet companies, it didn't make sense for them to have trucks from Ford and vans from Nissan." Add in $2.8 billion in cuts that the company is planning to stay afloat and COVID-19, and the death knell was coming sooner than later for the NV family.
    If Nissan does go forward with dropping the NV family, this will be a major blow to about a forth of Nissan dealers in the U.S. They made various investments such as installing heavy-duty lifts capable of lifting fully-loaded vans and having a dedicated sales staff to handle specific fleet issues.
    "Dealers now have serious concerns about their investments in commercial vehicles," said Slade.
    There is also the question as to whether Nissan may try again. Automotive News notes that in the new business strategy outlined last month, Nissan is wanting more global cooperation with its alliance partner Renault. The French automaker already has a number of vans in its lineup and is quite successful in various markets. Nissan already sells a version of the Renault Traffic, called the NV300 in Europe.
    But getting a Renault van into the U.S. as a Nissan will be difficult and costly in terms of homologation. Also, Nissan would still need to figure out how to appeal to larger fleet buyers that go with Ford or GM.
    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), The Drive
    Pic Credit: William Maley for Cheers & Gears

    Drew Dowdell

    ...plummeting sales are to blame....

    Nissan is forcing employees to go without pay for two days at the beginning of January 2020 by remaining closed on the 2nd and 3rd of January. The move equates to a 9.2% pay cut for those paid monthly.  In addition to the pay cuts, Nissan is cutting travel expenses by half effective immediately. All of Nissan's US operations, including Infiniti an Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp, the company's in house financing unit are included in the shut down. 
    Nissan has been plagued with falling sales in the U.S. with the entire group falling 16 percent in November. Nissan brand fell 13 percent and Infiniti fell 33 percent (You can view the industry sales figure ticker for November here). Nissan has been moving away from high volume fleet sales and cutting back on retail incentives in a drive to be more profitable. 

    Drew Dowdell

    ...Looking to take on Tesla?...

    When it comes to electric vehicles, Telsa takes nearly all of the headlines, but Nissan has been quietly selling the Leaf since 2010, two years before the Tesla Model S came to market.  Now, Nissan wants some of its thunder back and is working on a dual motor prototype of the Leaf e+.  The motors are set up at each axle and provide a combined output of 304 hp and 501 lb.-ft of torque.  The regular Leaf e+ has 214 horsepower and 251 lb.-ft of torque and gets to 62 mph from a stop in 6.9 seconds, so with 90 more horsepower and about double the torque, the dual motor version should scoot along quite nicely. 
    Nissan has tuned the power delivery to be smooth but very responsive.  The all-wheel drive system has been tuned to work with the regenerative braking to help control stability even more than a normal all-wheel drive system would. 
    While it is not going into production, this test bed shows that Nissan is working on more EV systems for the future for a greater variety of vehicles. 

    Drew Dowdell

    2020 Nissan Titan Debuts

    By Drew Dowdell, in Nissan,

    ...claims best in class base horsepower...

    At the Texas State Fair today, Nissan debuted the updated 2020 Nissan Titan. The 2020 Titan features a bold new grille and light designs that help differentiate the various trim levels of the truck. Inside on the redesigned center stack is a new 9-inch diagonal touchscreen infotainment system with built in Wifi router. The infotainment system also features Android Auto and Apple Car Play. Safety features include Nissan Safety Shield 360, standard on all grades of truck. The Titan will come in King Cab and Crew Cab body styles and 5 levels of trim. Crew Cab models have an available panoramic sunroof that is one of the largest in the segment at over 3 square feet.  
    On the powertrain front, the Titan retains its sole 5.6 liter V8, but now upgraded to 400 horsepower and 413 lb.-ft of torque.  By virtue of not offering a V6, the Titan can lay claim to having the most powerful base engine offered in the segment. Backing up that V8 is a new 9-speed automatic running power to the rear or all four wheels. 
    The new Titan goes on sale in early 2020. 
     

    Drew Dowdell

    ...Not in the US for 2020, but soon...

    Nissan has debuted the 2020 Nissan Patrol for the Middle East. We had gotten a preview when the Nissan Patrol leaked out on Facebook a few weeks ago. 
    The Nissan Patrol is known as the Nissan Armada in the U.S., however we will not get this update until at least the 2021 model year as the 2020 Armadas are already on dealer lots. 
    Overall, the Patrol's formula remains the same, a chiseled, upright SUV with a posh interior and real off-road chops.  It takes on the company's V-Motion grille with a broad flat bottom.  It's flanked by C-shaped LED running lamps.  At the rear, there are fewer changes, though Nissan did install new tail-lamps with  sequential turn signals.  The interior has moved even more upscale with available diamond-stitched quilted leather seats. The infotainment system has been upgraded with support for Android Auto and Apple Car Play.  Nissan says that the interior will also be noticeably quieter.
    In the Middle East, the standard engine is a 4.0 liter V6 producing 275 horsepower and 291 lb.-ft of torque or customers can upgrade to the 5.6 liter V8 with 400 horsepower and 413 lb.-ft of torque.  In the US, only the 5.6 liter V8 is available with 390 horsepower and 394 lb.-ft of torque. Customers who chose the V8 will also get to choose Nissan's Hydraulic Body Motion Control adaptive suspension system.
    No official word on when the Patrol updates will make it to the Armada in the U.S., but we expect to see something for 2021. Middle East buyers can pick one up by the end of this month. 
     

    Drew Dowdell

    Updated Nissan Titan Inbound

    By Drew Dowdell, in Nissan,

    ...ready for a face lift...

    Nissan has announced a date for the next version of the Nissan Titan.  The refresh for the 2020 Model year will be unveiled on September 26th. It is said to include a new "hot" Nissan badge with lava red accents featured on the PRO-4X model. 
    Not much to be seen from the teaser picture, but it shows a revised grille with new headlights which include a C-Shaped running light, new front bumper, fog lights, and more visible tow hooks.  Also expect a new tail gate and a revised center stack and switchgear.  One the powertrain front, gone will be the optional 5.0 liter Cummins V8 diesel. The only engine offered will be the 5.6 liter gasoline V8, but no word on if that has received any updates. Currently it produces 390 horsepower and 394 lb.-ft of torque. 
    The 2020 Nissan Armada also recently leaked out and is expected to be debuted at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show.
     

    Drew Dowdell

    ...few people do seats better than Nissan...

    Nissan is known for their Zero Gravity Seats found in many of their vehicles, some of the most comfortable cars seats I've found in the industry.  Nissan took that experience and applied it to three gaming chair concepts aimed at the gaming crowd.
    First of the three is a chair based on the Nissan GT-R Nismo (shown above). It's made from carbon fiber and aluminum and shaped like a racing seat. The soft areas are covered with a red leather and synthetic suede surfaces.
    My personal favorite is the Nissan Armada. Inspired by Nissan's full-size SUV, the chair is based on the Platinum Reserve with black and brown leather seating surfaces in the shape of a captain's chair. It has climate controlled heating and cooling with lumbar support for additional comfort.

    Finally, the Nissan Leaf. It features gun metal painted surfaces with light-gray leather-appointed seats with electric blue inserts, usb charging ports, and integrated leg rests.

    Unfortunately, Nissan has no current plans to build any of these chairs, but is gauging public reaction.  If you are interested in one of these chairs, but sure to tweet them at @NissanUSA.  What say you reader? Should Nissan build one of these models?

    Drew Dowdell

    **waves bye**

    The latest CEO at Nissan, Hiroto Saikawa, is out-of-office permanently as of September 16th after yet another financial scandal rocks the company.  Saikawa is the second Nissan CEO to be tainted by financial misconduct allegations. 
    Allegedly, Saikawa received improper payments with regards to the sale of Nissan stock. The payments were after the date of the sale of the stock was altered and netted Saikawa additional hundreds of thousands of dollars. Saikawa has not yet been charged with a crime. Saikawa originally said he would stay on until a replacement was found, but abruptly changed course and formally resigned today.
    The temporary replacement will be Chief Operating Officer Yasuhiro Yamauchi until a permanent replacement has been found. There are currently ten candidates for the positions and Nissan says it is considering outsiders and non-Japanese. 
     

    Drew Dowdell

    ...Time for a refresh...

    The current generation of Nissan Armada came out in 2016 for model year 2017. As we're already into the 2020 model year it seems it was about time for a refresh. Someone in Saudi Arabia snapped shots of a Nissan Patrol, the same vehicle as the Armada, and leaked them out on Facebook.
    Nissan's big body-on-frame SUV gets some updated headlights and updated grille.  It could just be the angle, but the hood looks more horizontal and the lower side air inlets are a different shape.  Around back the bumper gets smaller and more integrated into the body and new tail lamps show up that remind one of an Expedition.
    On the inside, the shape of the interior looks familiar, though the center stack is now flat rather than having a bulge in the middle.  There also appear to be two screens as in many Infiniti models. Red quilted leather seats and the badge on the back indicate that this is a Platinum model.
    Under the facelift, expect the hardware to remain the same with a 390 horsepower, 5.6-liter V8 and a 7-speed automatic.
    We expect to see the 2020 Nissan Armada at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in November.

    Drew Dowdell

    ...early cuts for next year...

    A little over a week ago we told you that Nissan was going to start cutting parts of its model lineup.  Some of the low hanging fruit for Nissan are the variants of the Nissan Titan. Nissan Titan sales are down 22.6 percent, selling only 18,026 copies in the first half of 2019.
    The biggest news is that Nissan will be killing off the Cummins diesel option for the Titan XD. The 5 liter turbocharged  V8 produces 310 horsepower and 555 lb-ft of torque.  For 2020, the Titan XD will be powered solely by the 5.6 liter gasoline V8 unless Nissan has a card up their sleeve to offer something else.
    Also going away will be the standard cab variants of the Titan and Titan XD, leaving just the extended cab and crew cab in the lineup.
    For 2020, the truck will be receiving a light refresh. The exterior is getting a face lift and the interior is lightly updated plus gaining a new infotainment system with a larger screen. 
    We reviewed the 2016 Nissan Titan XD with the Cummins diesel back in May 2016 and came away impressed but confused by its place in the market. Take a read to find out why. 

    Drew Dowdell

    ...No longer the cheapest you can buy...

    The Nissan Versa once held the dubious title of being the cheapest new car you could buy.  Now, with the all new 2020 Nissan Versa, Nissan hopes to bring the sub-compact a little bit more premium and with that the Versa goes up in price.   Now coming only in a sedan (The Kicks has replaced the Versa Note), the Versa wears one of the more stylish exteriors for the sub-compact class. The engine is a next generation 1.6 liter 4-cylinder, with an increase in horsepower to 122.  Fuel economy is rated at 32 city / 40 highway / 35 combined. 
    Those of you who prefer to row your own gears instead of letting Nissan's CVT do it are limited to buying the base model Versa S, starting at $14,730. Above that, all models come with the CVT.
    Model/Engine/Transmission
     
    Versa S 1.6 5MT
    $14,730 USD
    Versa S 1.6 Xtronic
    $16,400 USD
    Versa SV 1.6 Xtronic
    $17,640 USD
    Versa SR 1.6 Xtronic
    $18,240 USD
     
    Destination and Handling $895.
    These prices are roughly a $2,000 increase over the current car. But you do get a lot more for your money.   Nissan Safety Shield 360 is standard on the SV and SR. Available equipment includes heated front seats, 60/40-split fold-down rear seat, and Automatic Climate Control, bigger wheels, and intelligent cruise control. 
    The 2020 Nissan Versa is available at dealerships soon. 
     

    Drew Dowdell

    ...It's not just employees that will be leaving Nissan...

    There's one disadvantage to being partially owned by the French, they know how to cut things off when they need to. We reported last week that due to lagging sales and plunging profits, Nissan was readying to layoff 12,500 employees globally, or 9% of their global workforce. It seems that other cuts are on the way as well, though we may not see as much of it here in the U.S.
    Along with the 9% cut in jobs will be around 10% of its global lineup as well.  First to go will be the low-end models in developing markets like India. Their overseas brand Datsun could see the bulk of the cuts, but the US will lose models as well. Expect coupes and hatchbacks to be the first to go, the Versa hatchback for example will not be returning for 2020, replaced by the more crossover-like Kicks. Which coupe might die? The Nissan 370Z, the Nissan GT-R, and the Infiniti Q60 are prime targets.  Deliveries of the Infiniti Q60 are down 48.8% as of June. In Sedan-Land, the Maxima fell 30% and the Altima, which is all-new, is down 12.1%. 
    But it isn't just cars that could get kicked to the curb.  The Nissan Titan sales are down 22.6%, selling a mere 18,026 copies in the first half of this year. This trails even the slow selling Toyota Tundra by some 36,000 units. The Murano is down 33% year to date. 
    So if you're wondering which models may have their head in the Guillotine, take a look at our Sales Figure Ticker for Nissan for June and put a big red question mark on them. 

    Drew Dowdell

    ...Profit margin shriveled to 0.1 percent...

    Yesterday we reported that Nissan may be cutting up to 10,000 jobs.... we were short by about 2,500. Nissan Motor Company's CEO Hiroto Saikawa said "The results were really more negative than we expected" in a financial briefing at Nissan Headquarters.  Operating profit was nearly wiped out, falling to just $14.8 million in the first fiscal quarter ending June 30th.  Operating margin shrank from 4.0 percent last year to barely 0.1 percent this year.  Global retail volume fell 6.0% to 1.23 million vehicles.
    On the back of these poor results. Nissan has annouced job cuts of up to 12,500 worldwide as part of a plan to revive the company.  Of that, 6,400 job cuts are already underway with 1,420 jobs lost in the U.S.  An additional 6,100 job cuts are planned over the next 4 years. Most of the job cuts will be at plants that are working below capacity. 
    In the U.S., Nissan is trying to move away from fleet sales and focus on increasing retail sales, with the goal of boosting retail sales by 100,000 units. 

    Drew Dowdell

    ...as profits plummet, job huge job cuts could be coming...

    Rumor has it that that Nissan is about to report that its first-quarter profit fell by nearly 90%. Nissan has yet to recover from the financial scandal caused by Carlos Ghosn.  Additionally, years of chasing volume over profits in the U.S. has damaged the brand, requiring heavy discount and cheap financing to move metal. Investors are also worried that the alliance with Renault is breaking down.  Friction with France's Renault over the failed merger with Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles has brought tensions between the two companies to an all-time high.
    Reports are that due to the falling profits, Nissan will be cutting up to 10,000 jobs, primarily in Asia and South America.  In doing so, Nissan would join the ranks of Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Honda, and others with global layoffs in the five digit range. Nissan/Infiniti sales in the US are down 8.9 percent year to date as of June. 

    Drew Dowdell

    ...awaiting more testing in the US...

    Nissan is releasing the next version of ProPilot in Japan in the fall of 2019 on the new Nissan Skyline (Infiniti G50 to us Yanks), but here in the U.S., we'll need to wait a bit longer while the system undergoes further testing and mapping of the US highway system.
    ProPilot 2.0 makes a big jump in autonomous driving capability, the biggest of which is true hands-off highway driving. The system can switch lanes and pass cars, but those moves require a hands on approach from the driver. ProPilot 2.0 also takes orders from the Navigation system, while using seven cameras, five radar sensors, and 12 sonar sensors to pilot the car.  The system will only work on highways where the roads have been mapped in 3D High-Definition.  Japan's more compact nature means that most of the roads there have already been scanned.  The US, with its wide open space will take longer to map. 
    Currently ProPilot Assist (1.0) is offered only on the Leaf, Rogue, Rogue Sport, and Altima. In the US, 60 percent of Leaf buyers and 40 percent of Rogue buyers opt for the 1.0 version of the system.   Eventually Nissan wants to expand ProPilot to 20 models. 

    Drew Dowdell

    ...refuses to vote in Nissan management reform...

    After Nissan having a heavy hand in helping to scuttle the potential merger between Renault and FCA, Renault is getting payback by helping to block corporate reforms Nissan is attempting to put in place after the arrest of Carlos Ghosn and poor financial performance by the company.   Nissan and Renault are fighting because Nissan abstained from the vote on whether to merge, and following that, the French government did as well.  Without the cooperation of the French government, FCA pulled out of the deal.
    Renault holds 43.4 percent of Nissan and is upset with the representation they would have on the board and committees under the current plans.  The French company says that their abstention from voting is not final and can change pending changes to the proposals. 
    Meanwhile, rumors say that FCA and Renault are still looking for ways to salvage the merger while Nissan is pressuring Renault to reduce their holdings in Nissan. Nissan has been seeking more autonomy from Renault ever since the Ghosn scandals. 

    Drew Dowdell

    ...as long as the price is right....

    A Nissan executive who has declined to be identified is upbeat about the possible FCA-Renault merger according to a report by AutoBlog.  The deal, estimated at about $35 billion, would not give FCA the right to use Nissan technology via the Nissan-Renault alliance. 
    The executive said he was optimistic about possible synergies of using Nissan's green and electric vehicle know-how in other vehicles. He also raised the possibility that Nissan could increase its stake, currently 15%, in Renault or FCA-Renault.  Without increasing their stake, Nissan's share of the resulting company would be cut to 7.5%.  FCA-Renault however, would continue to hold 43.4% of Nissan. 
    Examples of some of the sharing could be Nissan's advanced engine technology currently used in Infiniti as a possible benefit for Alfa Romeo and Jeep. 
    FCA and Renault for their part are still negotiating with each other and with the French government which wants job and production guarantees. Renault is said to have a decision on the merger by end of this week.

    Drew Dowdell

    ...Just change the name...

    Nissan unveiled the Nissan Sylphy at the Shanghai Auto Show earlier this month and spies have caught it in the US virtually confirming it will be coming to the US as the next generation Nissan Sentra.
    Looking like a mini-Nissan Altima, Nissan says the chassis is now much stiffer and they have gone and improved the suspension and steering feel.  The interior has been made to look much more luxurious with quilted seats and a slicker looking dashboard.
    The infotainment system is a 8-inch TFT screen and the driver gets a 7-inch TFT gauge cluster. Nissan's ProPilot Assist will be available and includes things like collision warning, blind spot warning, lane departure warning, cross traffic alert, and others. 
    No details yet on powertrain except that Nissan says the 4-cylinder engine and CVT have been updated. 


    Drew Dowdell

    ...Nissan is showing that not all small cars are dead...

    At the Tortuga Music Festival in Ft. Lauderdale Florida yesterday, Nissan unveiled the all-new 2020 Nissan Versa. 
    Nissan packed technology usually reserved for higher end cars into the low-cost Versa including Nissan's Safety Shield 360.  Safety Shield 360 includes: 
    Nissan Intelligent Mobility that helps provide front, side and rear safety monitoring and intervention technologies. Standard safety features include Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection Rear Automatic Braking Lane Departure Warning High Beam Assist Available equipment includes Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Intelligent Driver Alertness and Intelligent Cruise Control.
    The exterior has been refreshed to look like a smaller version of the Nissan Altima with Nissan's V-Motion grille and a rear floating roof.  The interior has been greatly upgraded. Inside, Nissan took styling elements from the Nissan Maxima. Heated front seats, push button start, Automatic Climate Control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also available. 
    Under the hood is a 1.6 liter 4-cylinder producing 122 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque with either a CVT or 5-speed manual.
    No word yet on pricing, but the Nissan Versa is one of the least expensive vehicles available in the U.S.... that it packs this much technology into an inexpensive package will make it a killer value if Nissan can hold the line on pricing.


    Drew Dowdell

    ...the oldest small truck on the market is about to get a redesign...

    The Jeep Gladiator is new. While it is based on older underpinnings and a somewhat dated interior, the Ford Ranger is the second newest truck in the U.S. market.  Behind that is the just-refreshed but still on an older chassis Toyota Tacoma, that is getting a new platform in a few years. Behind that is the Honda Ridgeline.  Behind that are the GM twins of Colorado and Canyon which came out in 2012. And finally, behind those two, the oldest small/midsize truck is the Nissan Frontier, trucking on since 2004 without a major redesign.   Put into some perspective, the current Nissan Frontier is only one year younger than the previous generation of Colorado and Canyon.  As far as the automotive industry goes, that is ancient, but Frontier buyers don't seem to mind. Nissan sold nearly 79,646 Frontier trucks in 2018, a 7.1% increase over 2017.  That's with all the new competition coming on the market and without any major incentives.  That makes it the brands third best seller in the crossover/truck segment after Rogue and Murano. 
    People wanting something a bit fresher from Nissan still have about 18 months to wait. The next Frontier, sold as a 2021 model, should arrive in dealerships in the Fall of 2020. People who have seen previews of the truck describe it as "futuristic" and "Modern, but still looks like a truck".  It will get a new 300 horsepower V6 engine replacing the current 4.0 V6 and the 5-speed automatic will be upgraded to a 7-speed. 
    However, unlike the Tacoma, which is moving to an all new platform in a few years. The Frontier will get a heavily revised version of its current frame.  Nissan opted not to go with their global Navara truck platform primarily because it is too small to compete with the likes of the Ranger and Gladiator.  It also uses a more expensive coil spring rear suspension instead of the traditional leaf springs. 
    With the Ford Ranger and Jeep Gladiator now entering the market, Nissan wants to catch up and be the newest kid on the block, if only for a little while.

    Drew Dowdell

    ....back behind bars for the ex-Nissan CEO...

    In what is being called a highly unusual turn, Japanese prosecutors have arrested Carlos Ghosn again while he was out on bail on suspicion of trying to enrich himself at Nissan's expense.  Ghosn has called on the French government for help. Ghosn was free on $9 Million bail at the time.
    Prosecutors say that Ghosn had caused over $5 million in losses at Nissan Motor Co in a breach of his legal duties to the company with the goal of personal gain. The losses come from the alleged shifting of funds through a dealer in Oman into an account that Ghosn owned. 
    Prosecutors visited Ghosn's residence on Thursday for questioning and later took him into custody. Ghosn remained defiant, saying through a spokesman "Why arrest me except to try to break me? I will not be broken" and that the arrest was "an outrageous and arbitrary attempt to silence him". 
    Prior to his arrest, Ghosn said on Twitter that he would hold a press conference on April 11th to tell the truth about the allegations against him. Prosecutors can hold him for 22 days without charge under Japanese law. 
     

    David

    Carlos Ghosen leaves jail disguised as a Japanese laborer on bail.

    Japanese journalists await Carlos Ghosn who was expected to be released from Jail on bail after the Tokyo court granted the bail request. Ghosn lawyer's office said it would be near impossible for him to be released the same day due to an appeal by the prosecutor's office.
    Ghosn was granted bail set at $1 billion yen or equal to $9 million US at today's exchange rate. Ghosn is 64 and head of the auto alliance of Nissan Motors, Mitsubishi Motors, and Renault. He was arrested in 2018 on suspicion of underreporting his income by more than $80 million US dollars and saddling Nissan with his personal investment losses, allegations he denies.
    Ghosn new legal team was able to get bail granted on the conditions he will be kept under guard locally with limited to no outside information. Ghosn has claimed that the executives of Nissan are responsible for his arrest as they plotted and committed treason to prevent him from bringing Nissan further under Renault's control.
    While Carlos Ghosn has resigned from the CEO position on all three companies, he remains on the boards of all three companies.
    Yet now that he is out on bail he seems to be insulting the average workers of Japan and according to various stories, his new legal team has apologized for advising the former CEO to leave jail in a disguise being taken away in a work van with ladders attached to the roof.
    Local news outlets have mocked the costume drama bringing more attention than if he had just left on his own in normal business attire and in a business auto. Ghosn is one of the highest-profile detainees which also has made him one of the most famous now.
    Ghosn was seen later in the day walking with two women, one believed to be his wife and the other his daughter in a Tokyo park by where he will be living surrounded by press and still wearing the blue baseball cap and sunglasses.


     

    William Maley

    "[Have I] done [something] inappropriate? I am not a lawyer, I don't know the interpretation of [such] facts."

    Carlos Ghosn has been sitting in a Japanese jail cell since mid-November on charges financial violations, including under-reporting compensation. It is unclear what awaits him in the coming months, but he believes that his downfall is due the result of "plot and treason" by Nissan executives opposed to plans of a merger between Nissan and Renault.
    Today, the Nikkei Asian Review published an exclusive interview with Ghosn from the detention center he is currently being held at. This is quite surprising as Ghosn has been "barred from meeting with his family or Nissan employees".
    During the short interview (about 20 minutes), Ghosn dismissed various accusations ranging from his 19-year reign at Nissan being a "dictatorship," to the numerous financial charges he is currently facing. One of those charges deals with $14.7 million in payments to a company run by Saudi businessman Khaled al-Juffali. Ghosn said "the executive in charge of the region signed [the approval]," and the funds came from Ghosn's "CEO reserve," a pot of money that he was free to decide how to spend.
    "[Have I] done [something] inappropriate? I am not a lawyer, I don't know the interpretation of [such] facts," Ghosn said.
    "These are known by everybody, why didn't they tell me?"
    Ghosn also talked about the plans for the deeper integration of Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi. The plan was to have the three closely integrated to ensure "autonomy under one holding company." Ghosn also revealed that he wanted to have Mitsubishi Motors CEO Osamu Masuko in the talks about the integration, but Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa wanted to keep the talks "one-on-one". Allies of Ghosn believed some Nissan executives were worried that Ghosn's power could increase under the integration, prompting them to work with Tokyo prosecutors.
    A Nissan spokesman told Bloomberg that Saikawa previously refuted the notion of a coup.
    “Nissan’s investigation uncovered substantial and convincing evidence of misconduct,” the company said in a statement.
    Source: Nikkei Asian Review, Bloomberg



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