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Nissan Quest may/may not be sold here

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Nissan Still in Minivan Game
A next-generation Quest for North America is likely, but the styling will be markedly different
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BY ALISA PRIDDLE | July 2007 | Link to Original Article @ Car & Driver


As Chrysler prepares to try to shake up the minivan segment with a new generation of its people mover in September, and with Ford and General Motors exiting the market, Nissan is prepared to ante up for a few more hands.

Nissan will stay a player for now in what the Japanese automaker sees as a shrinking—but still viable—market, Larry Dominique, Nissan North America vice-president in charge of product planning, told Car and Driver in an interview.

The Quest—with a controversial design customers either love or hate—has never sold as well as hoped, even with a fairly comprehensive redesign for 2007. Less than 32,000 units were sold in 2006, down 21 percent from the previous year, and sales are less than 16,000 through June, a one percent dip, according to Ward’s Automotive Reports.

Dominique is a Quest fan. He thinks the minivan just lacked awareness. And although assembly of the next-generation Quest will move to Kyushi, Japan, from Canton, Mississippi, that is at least a couple years out and does not necessarily mean the end of Quest sales in the U.S.

Dominique says Nissan will continue to monitor the health of the U.S. minivan market and has time to decide if the next-gen will continue to be sold here.

Quest Has Character

But design chief Shiro Nakamura is working on that premise. Nakamura says the Quest “still has a lot of character,” but it was not a successful product in terms of Nissan design language and has not been a strong seller. Its unique side profile worked for the Armada but was not well received on the minivan.

In an interview with Car and Driver, Nakamura says the next Quest will be “very different. More in line with other Nissan models.” Nissan has not finalized the design, he says, but the North American model is shaping up to be distinctive yet again: “It won’t be a normal minivan.”

Nakamura says modern Nissan design started with the most-recent Altima (a coupe joined the lineup this spring) and 350Z and continues with the next-generation Maxima and 350Z. A new Murano is coming next year, with enhanced materials.

Not Designed for the Masses

Polarizing design is part of Nissan’s intention in a bid to create a strong family. “We’re not looking for everybody to buy Nissan,” Nakamura says, “but we want people to love Nissan.”

He recognizes the automaker must concentrate more on global product development, where possible, as it has been too regional in the past—especially with products for North America that had to be bigger and more powerful. As a result, “it was hard to bring a U.S. product to Europe. The size and the engine were too big,” Nakamura says. It was easier to develop global small cars, such as the Versa subcompact. The pragmatic Nakamura says he knows the entire lineup cannot be global—there will always be some vehicles that must be specifically developed for the U.S.

As for the Canton plant, capacity will be freed up when the Quest (and perhaps also the Infiniti QX56) moves out—and sales of the full-size Armada and Titan have not been as robust as hoped. Dominique says Nissan still is looking at what to do with the excess capacity at the plant that has the flexibility to move things around and add new products.

Meanwhile, the minivan wars will heat up with the new Chrysler minivans preparing to launch with more features and a lower price under a new “value pricing” strategy designed to price vehicles closer to the transaction price and cut back on incentives.
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nissan, make it less ugly inside and out and make it hold up.

i am pretty glad nowadays that i did not get one a couple years ago.

it's still the best driving minivan but c'mon, make it a semblance of attractive. please.

believe it or not, the reason many folks jump off the minivan bandwagon, besides the nerdiness of it, is lack of AWD.

no one to date has come up with a minivan that has had a reliable problem free fuss free AWD.

Edited by regfootball
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believe it or not, the reason many folks jump off the minivan bandwagon, besides the nerdiness of it, is lack of AWD.

no one to date has come up with a minivan that has had a reliable problem free fuss free AWD.

The Versetrak in our Venture hasn't given us any problems.

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The Versetrak in our Venture hasn't given us any problems.

Ahhh, the Pontiac Aztek & the Buick Rendezvous had Versatrak too. :P

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i forgot. since the GM vans were not high profile though you can forgive me for that.

the relative reliability of the versatrak was offset by 'the gasket' anyways.

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the relative reliability of the versatrak was offset by 'the gasket' anyways.

Are you referring to Buickman?

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