|Nissan Tiida, the basis for the new subcompact|
The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reports that Nissan will begin producing its promised new low-priced subcompact for the North American market next spring.
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn had said in January that the company would produce and sell a new compact car with a 1.5-liter engine in North America, although he was less definite about the date. (Earlier post.)
|HR15DE with XTRONIC CVT|
The new car will be based on the subcompact Tiida, and use the new 1.5-liter HR15DE engine, co-developed with Renault. The HR15DE has already appeared in Nissan’s recently introduced Note and Tiida models in the Japanese Market.
The Tiida, introduced in the fall of 2004, uses the 1.5-liter engine in combination with the XTRONIC Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) to deliver 109 hp (81 kW) of power and 148 Nm of torque. The new powertrain is 30% lighter than its predecessor, delivers an increase of 5%–7% torque at low to medium speeds and provides an increase in fuel economy of 28%.
The Tiida, using the 1.5-liter/CVT combination, consumes 5.49 l/100 kilometers of fuel in the Japanese drive cycle (43 mpg US) and emits 128g CO2/km. It is rated as a SULEV vehicle.
Nissan reportedly will manufacture tens of thousands of the new subcompacts at its Aguascalientes, Mexico plant in the first year, then lift annual output to more than 100,000 cars a couple of years later.
Last week, Nissan announced that it had achieved its goal of boosting global sales by 1 million units from its fiscal 2001 level, raising U.S. sales by 380,000 vehicles. In the medium-term business plan it launched this fiscal year, the automaker is targeting 4.2 million units worldwide by fiscal 2008. Nissan will develop the new subcompact into a core model in North America and expects it to help meet the new sales target.
Although margins on subcompacts are tight (and such manufacturing is increasingly done in countries such as China, where labor costs are lower), there are two important business benefits for Nissan. First is that buyers of subcompacts often upgrade within the same brand in the future. Second is that Nissan can tap into a growing market for fuel efficiency at a much lower price point than possible with a hybrid buy—again, especially at that entry point. The new subcompact reportedly will be priced in the mid-teens.