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Nissan Versa Gets a Familiar New Look

2015 sedan’s facelift puts it in line with sedan siblings.

by on Apr.15, 2014

The 2015 Nissan Versa takes on the familiar styling of the rest of Nissan's sedan line-up.

The Nissan Versa sedan received a makeover for the 2015 model year and now the company’s starter vehicle looks like the rest of the line-up. The automaker said Versa’s new “‘Nissan family’ front-end styling adds a more substantial visual presence.”

“Versa Sedan is the entry point for the dynamic Nissan sedan lineup, attracting many first-time new car buyers to the brand,” said Pierre Loing, vice president, Product Planning, Nissan North America, Inc., in a statement.

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“It’s critical that we keep Versa’s look and feel fresh and its value equation high, with a rewarding driving and ownership experience.” (more…)

Nissan Moves Up-Market with 2015 Murano Redesign

Midsize CUV moves up-market.

by on Apr.14, 2014

Nissan's Andy Palmer introduced the all-new Murano for 2015.

Nissan delivered real game-changer when it introduced the original Murano back in late 2002, the midsize crossover breaking with the styling trends of the day that made most CUVs look like traditional, truck-based sport-utility vehicles.

The Japanese maker is back with an all-new Murano which will reach showrooms later this year, and the challenge was to come up with something that pushed the envelope even further.  The maker will get a sense of how well it succeeded when the third-generation CUV makes its official debut at the New York Auto Show this week.

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As with a number of other recent Nissan products, the 2015 Murano began life in show car form – the design signaled through the recent Nissan Resonance show car.

“At Nissan, we create concept vehicles with an eye toward production, rather than just for entertaining auto show audiences,” said Andy Palmer, chief planning officer and executive vice president at Nissan Motor Co. “Likely few people who saw Resonance in its North American International Auto Show debut imagined that we could build such a futuristic design. But here it is, ready to hit Nissan showrooms less than 24 months later.”

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New Technologies Allow Motorists to “See” In New Ways

Land Rover unveils “Transparent Hood,” Nissan demonstrates a “smart rearview mirror.”

by on Apr.14, 2014

A diagram of the new Nissan smart mirror system.

It’s always a challenge for a motorist to be sure they can see everything going on around their vehicle, whether backing out of a parking spot or changing lanes.  But new technologies have begun to make that challenge a little easier and safer, with two intriguing new features making their debut at the New York Auto Show later that week.

That includes a new “smart rearview mirror” developed by Nissan, as well as a feature Land Rover is dubbing the “Transparent Hood.”

 

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“Smart Rearview Mirror will give our customers the best possible view no matter how tall the passengers in the back seat or how bad the road conditions,” said Andy Palmer, Chief Planning Officer and Executive Vice President of Nissan.

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Ram Outsells Silverado for 1st Time

Ford F-150 retains solid segment leadership.

by on Apr.02, 2014

The addition of the Ram 1500 Diesel has helped the truck gain new momentum in the market.

One month doesn’t a trend make.  And it’s too early to see whether General Motors’ worsening recall problems are having an impact – but for the first time ever, Fiat Chrysler’s Ram 1500 outsold rival GM’s Chevrolet Silverado 1500 last month  to become the U.S. market’s second-best-selling full-size pickup truck.

March also marked the first time since 1978 that Chevy’s big rig wasn’t in second place in the fast-reviving truck segment, behind only the long-dominant Ford F-150.

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The numbers were close, Ram delivering 42,532 pickups last month compared to the Silverado’s 42,247. And Chevy can take solace in the fact that it remains entrenched in second place for the year to date, holding a more than 10,000-unit lead over the Ram brand: 107,757 Silverado 1500s to 96,906 Ram 1500s.

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2015 Nissan Murano to Make NY Auto Show Debut

Maker offers a subtle tease of new CUV.

by on Mar.24, 2014

Nissan teases the new 2015 Murano.

At a time when most manufacturers tried to disguise their early crossovers to look like conventional sport-utility vehicles, Nissan took a decidedly different direction, when it launched the original Murano, a halo vehicle for the makers expanding range of crossovers and CUVs.

Where to go next?  The little Nissan Juke crossover that debuted at the recent Geneva Motor Show suggests that the Japanese maker isn’t backing away from its commitment to edgy styling.  Far from it.  We actually got a hint of what’s coming in early 2013, when Nissan rolled out the radical Resonance design concept.

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Now it’s ready to show us the real deal, the 2015 Nissan Murano slated to debut at the New York Auto Show next month.

We’ve gotten a couple teaser images of the new car that provide another hint of what’s coming, Nissan promising that the 2015 Murano “features a spacious, premium interior and advanced, purposeful safety and connective technology.”

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Toyota Workers Get First Pay Increase Since 2008

Nissan, Honda follow suit with smaller raises.

by on Mar.13, 2014

Toyota workers in Japan received raises for the first time since 2008. Could similar increases be coming for its U.S. employees?

For the first time since 2008, Toyota, Japan’s largest automaker, has agreed to increase in base pay for its 50,000 Japanese factory workers. The typical Toyota Motor Workers’ Union member will earn $26 more in base pay per month, Senior Managing Officer Naoki Miyazaki told reporters at a press conference in Tokyo.

The 0.8% pay increase is less than $40 per month raise sought by the union, which had been encouraged by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to call for a pay increase. The raise is the largest since 1993, according to Reuters.

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However, when the boost in longevity pay and compensation workers receive for learning new skills is calculated, the typical Toyota worker will get a 2.9% pay increase or the equivalent of about $73 per month, Toyota officials noted. (more…)

Tesla Poaches Nissan VP Simon Sproule as New PR Chief

Plenty of challenges await.

by on Mar.13, 2014

New Tesla PR Chief Simon Sproule.

It’s been an up-and-down month for Tesla, and if at times it seems like the start-up battery-carmaker has struggled a bit to stay on-message that’s probably no surprise.  It has, in fact, struggled to keep staffed with PR professionals and even those now on the Palo Alto-based team have often been overwhelmed.

There’s the generally good news about the maker’s stock price run-up, the worrisome developments involving a series of vehicle battery fires.  This week, Tesla seemed shell-shocked when it was denied the opportunity to set up factory-run dealerships in New Jersey. Never mind the fact that its expanding in Europe, preparing to enter China and getting ready to launch a new SUV, to be followed by a more mainstream battery sedan.

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Making sense out of all that will shortly become the responsibility of one Simon Sproule, at 45 an industry veteran who has worked for Ford, Jaguar, and for most of the last decade with CEO Carlos Ghosn in a variety of duties at Nissan and the Renault-Nissan Alliance.  His most recent assignment was director of communications for that Euro-Pacific partnership.

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Nissan Takes Juke Design to New Extremes

Edgier look, more room, new engine.

by on Mar.06, 2014

The updated Nissan Juke has been generating a wide range of opinions about its updated styling.

One thing about Nissan, the maker doesn’t shy away from edgy designs.  And that’s especially true when it comes to the maker’s various crossover models.  Case in point: the newly updated Juke that made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show this week.

The original version of the compact crossover was arguably the edgiest of the Nissan CUV designs, opting for a more youthful, funky approach than the more elegant – shall we say “mature” – Murano.  It appears Nissan has decided to push the needle quite a bit further with a design already polarizing the media covering the Geneva Show.

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The 2015 update features updated split headlamps framing a beefed-up chromed grille that almost appears to be grinning.  There are even more pronounced flares to the wheel arches, and the even more angular tail gets distinctive boomerang-style taillamps.  The overall look is decidedly more angular than before.

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Infiniti Muscles Up with Q50 Eau Rouge Concept v2.0

A “powerful heart” for a “blood-red beast.”

by on Mar.04, 2014

Infiniti CEO Johan de Nysschen with the Q50 Eau Rouge at its original roll-out in Detroit.

When Infiniti rolled out its Q50 Eau Rouge concept car at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year it suggested a bold and audacious new strategy by a brand that was long little more than an afterthought in the global luxury car market.  But the prototype left plenty of questions unanswered – notably including what might power a production version of the high-line muscle car?

We’ve gotten our answer with the debut of the Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge 2.0 at the Geneva Motor Show.  Under that deep red sheet metal, the beating heart of the concept vehicle is a twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-6 punching out 560 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of wheel-spinning torque.

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“Building on the extremely positive feedback on the Q50 Eau Rouge at its recent Detroit Auto Show launch, we decided to further whet the appetite of performance sports sedan fans by engineering this powerful heart into our blood-red beast,” said Johan de Nysschen, the president and CEO of Nissan’s luxury brand.

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Cold Weather Doesn’t Dim Nissan’s Expectations

Maker’s sales heat up despite Polar Vortex, and should keep building, says senior exec.

by on Feb.27, 2014

Nissan's Fred Diaz during a Detroit appearance.

It’s been a cold month in Hell, Michigan and much of the rest of country this winter, and February is looking to deliver another big chill to the auto industry, February sales likely to echo the unexpected cool-down experienced last month.

But the impact is likely to be short-lived, suggested Fred Diaz, the new Nissan division boss, during an appearance at the Automotive Press Association on Thursday.  “I’m not a believer you lose sales for good” because of bad weather, he said. “You only delay sales” that the industry will likely regain once the weather warms up.

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On the downside, the Nissan executive – who joined the company a year ago after spending a quarter-century with Chrysler – said the auto industry likely needs to prepare for a slowdown in the pace of its recovery since the end of the Great Recession.  Since bottoming out in 2010, U.S. auto sales have been growing at better than double-digit annual rates, but Diaz cautioned that level of “growth is unsustainable. We’re already seeing signs it will level off.”

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