The big news for Nissan at the Los Angeles Auto Show is the 2018 Kicks crossover. The compact SUV takes the place of the Juke in the company’s North American lineup, and arrives next year, priced “well below” $19,000.
Indeed, Nissan’s been on a huge crossover offensive lately. The Rogue is doing very well, as is the smaller Rogue Sport. According to Nissan’s North American VP of product planning, Michael Bunce, that’s why it’s the perfect time to introduce Kicks to the U.S. market. This is the “right space” to launch a new product right now.
But beyond crossovers, Bunce says there’s a ton more in store for Nissan. In fact, now that the company’s SUV lineup is nicely filled out, a huge focus is being put back on sedans. “The sedan is not dead” in the U.S., Bunce says.
Bunce believes Nissan has a good opportunity to “reinvent [its] sedans.” In the same way that Millennials avoid minivans because that’s what their parents drove, he thinks the same will be true about “Centennials” (the group known as Generation Z) and SUVs. They won’t want utility vehicles, he says. Sleek sedans could be just the ticket.
"The sedan is not dead," Bunce says. In fact, he believes Nissan has a good opportunity to "reinvent [its] sedans."
In fact, Bunce believes sedans provide a great opportunity for future electrification at Nissan. “It’s easy” to package EV powertrains in a sedan body, he says.
Speaking of electrification, that’s a huge part of Nissan’s future strategy. We’re not just talking about full EVs like the Leaf, either. Everything from hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and even performance-oriented electric applications are on the table. When asked about Nissan’s Nismo performance brand, Bunce says there’ll be “news coming” on that front, and that the company plans to enhance Nismo, and bring some excitement back to that division. He wouldn’t say anything specific, but strongly hinted that Nismo and electrification could be closely linked in the future.
There’s more cool news, too. A new Z is coming, though it’s still a few years away. Bunce says Nissan's Z fan base is super loyal (and incredibly vocal), so the company is taking its time to make sure the new car is "more outrageous" than before, and offers a few surprises. The new Frontier is “looking great,” and will be heading to the U.S. shortly. Even the rugged Xterra is expected to come back in some form – Bunce says Nissan is “not letting go” of that one.
“We’re bringing that spice back” to Nissan, Bunce says.