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Three time Olympic Gold Medal sprinter Usain Bolt and Nissan Motor Co. have joined forces for a new marketing campaign. Dubbed “WHAT IF” the campaign is designed to tantalize the senses, highlighting Nissan’s vehicles and technologies designed to “excite,” such as the GT-R supercar.
Even though the last one was produced in 1982 and no working examples are left in the Big Apple, the Checker Motors A11 is still considered the definitive New York taxi cab.
Nissan is hoping that in the 21st century, it’s so-called Taxi of Tomorrow, based on the NV 200 van, will become the next yellow cab icon. In fact, the company is putting together a new marketing campaign for the vehicle, designed to draw attention to the vehicle when it goes on display at the upcoming New York Auto Show, as well as highlighting Nissan’s spirit of innovation.
The NV 200 Taxi campaign, which has an estimated budget between $2-$3 million, will play on typical Big Apple and taxi themes such as “if it [the NV 200] can make it in New York, it can make it anywhere,” and “kept it yellow, changed everything else.”
Other ads for the future taxi play on Nissan’s larger overall marketing strategy, which emphasizes “innovation for all.” Examples include “innovation for NYC,” “the cab that goes to the corner of innovation and cool” and “the future of the auto industry? We’ll take you there.”
Although New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg clearly views the NV 200 as the ideal taxi for America’s largest city; the concept of a nondescript, boxy van (one that’s sold in multiple countries no less) becoming as iconic a symbol of New York as the old Checker, is probably a stretch at best. Nonetheless, you can’t blame Nissan for trying.
[Source: New York Times]
And with talk of adding a new edition to the Nissan lineup of crossovers in Europe, namely the Juke, Murano and Qashqai, that means a production version of the Hi-Cross will pick up where the boxy X-Trail left off.
As for the US, well Nissan dealers said they didn’t want the X-Trail when it was first introduced in 2005, but given how fast things change in the auto business, what might have seemed like a good idea then, probably isn’t now or in the near future, so such a vehicle might have a fighting chance this time around.
Nissan says the Hi-Cross showcases the future direction of corporate vehicle design, though it does have an aura of Infiniti FX about it, thanks to its coke bottle contours. Although a compact, the Hi-Cross boasts three-row seating, giving it considerable interior flexibility as well as great potential sales appeal.
Utilizing a development of Nissan’s new Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) drivetrain, the Hi-CROSS combines a 2.0-liter gas four-cylinder engine with an electric motor and compact lithium ion battery system. The result is said to provide the performance of a 2.5-liter motor with the fuel economy and emissions of a much smaller engine.
As for the transmission, well it probably isn’t surprising that a version of Nissan’s XTRONIC CVT is employed, though smaller pulleys and a new belt have been incorporated to improve efficiency, while a “one motor, two clutch” system allows the gasoline engine to be engaged and uncoupled at will.
Although Nissan’s Deputy Division General Manager of Product Strategy François Bancon, says the Hi-CROSS is “purely a concept car, exploring potential ideas for the future,” it does seem rather advanced for such a machine, plus the segment it’s aimed at is currently one of the most lucrative of all, which begs the question; could a production model be announced in New York or Paris? Watch this space.
GALLERY: Nissan Hi-Cross Concept
Following on from the announcement that it’s moving global headquarters from Yokohama to Hong Kong, Infiniti is now looking at moving other assets overseas, namely the production of vehicles.
This latest move is largely due to the record value of the yen against the US dollar which is making the marque’s vehicles increasingly less profitable in the North American market (the US remains a major source of revenue for the brand).
It’s a similar situation to that experienced by Japanese automakers in the 1990s, when the rising yen squeezed profitability on Nippon built vehicles sold in the United States (auto aficionados may recall the demise of the Nissan Z32 300ZX and Toyota Supra as particular examples).
Getting back to the present, Infiniti (despite assembling the goliath QX SUV in the US for a time) currently doesn’t build any vehicles outside Japan, though Andy Palmer, executive vice president for the brand said recently that, “as cars come up for renewal, generally they’re being relocated in a function of where the majority of sales are.”
Although deliberately vague, based on recent product introductions, that probably means more production will materialize in the US and Europe, likely with added capacity at Nissan’s Smyrna, Tennessee facility for SUV based models (the new JX, unveiled at the LA Auto Show will be built there) and possibly Nissan’s operations in Sunderland, UK as a source for smaller, hatchback based cars, like the production version of the Etherea concept.
Whatever happens, expect to see this shift in production to oversees markets as a continuing trend in the coming years as Infiniti, along with other Japanese automakers aims to limit the affect of global currency fluctuations and potential supply issues on vehicle production.
There’s been quite a lot of talk over the last few years concerning the replacement for Nissan‘s venerable Titan full-size pickup.
After the plan to offer a Ram based vehicle went away, following Chrysler’s bankruptcy and subsequent restructuring, Nissan chose to go it alone when it came to a next generation big pickup, bringing the entire development and engineering process in-house.
However, those plans, which reportedly would have seen a revamped Titan rolled out in 2013, have now been pushed back at least a year, largely as a result of supplier fallout from Japan’s natural disaster back in March. This has left the automaker scrambling to get production back on track as a top priority, diverting resources away from some upcoming vehicle programs.
As a result, during a Q&A session with Automotive News at the LA Auto Show last month, Andy Palmer, Nissan’s vice president for vehicle planning and program management, stated that, regarding a new Titan, “we will come out a little later now. I have made the decision.”
As to what form the new Titan will take, or which powertrains it will offer, little is known at this time, though expect V6 and possibly V8 engines as well as extended and crew cab models. It’ll be also interesting to see if Nissan will attempt to target heavier-duty customers with this one (it’s Titan based NV van currently comes in 1/2 ton, 3/4 ton and 1-ton configurations).
Perhaps the most exciting addition to the new Titan, however, will be the addition of a Cummin’s sourced diesel engine.
It’s a distinct possibility. On November 29th in Japan, Nissan introduced its latest hybrid driveline, which consists of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, teamed with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack.
What sets this one apart from other technologies is that the gas engine employs a positive displacement supercharger, which helps the powertrain deliver comparable numbers to Nissan’s VQ35 3.5-liter V6 while offering significant gains in fuel economy.
Nissan engineers also claim that the torque curve on this new drivetrain is almost identical to the V6, which means plenty of low and mid-range grunt; something a number of Nissan’s North American offerings have been known for over the last decade.
Although there’s been no official word yet, given the similarities in performance and power delivery, it is very likely this system could supplement or even replace the VQ35 in cars such as the Altima and possibly even the Maxima as well as some of its SUV offerings.
The Yokohama based company also said that it plans to introduce more forced-induction hybrid powertrains in the coming years, both for it’s Nissan and Infiniti brands, possibly with Plug-In technology. Exciting stuff.