Nissan Debuts New Mini Wagon

By: RyanThomas

The Nissan Motor Co. launched a new mini wagon in Japan last Thursday in an effort to beef up its Japan lineup. The Japanese automaker is exerting efforts to return to solid overall sales growth.

Nissan, the third largest Japanese automaker, is a newcomer to the domestic mini vehicle market. The company lost business to its rivals because of its insufficient lineup, Toshiyuki Shiga, the Nissan Chief Operating Officer, said at a press conference.

The automaker posted a profit decline last fiscal year for the first time in seven years as sales in the America and Japan plummeted. "We'd like to stop our customers from moving" to rivals by adding the new Clipper Rio mini wagon, Shiga said.

Nissan, 44 percent owned by Renault SA of France, aims for annual sales of 4,000 vehicles of the car, the company's first mini wagon model. The new Clipper Rio mini-wagon built by the Mitsubishi Motors Corp. for sale under the Nissan brand and will provide two other automakers with its remodeled light-duty truck for sales under their nameplates. Other mini wagons include the Moco, Clipper Truck/Van, Otti and Pino. As a "one-box" mini-wagon, the Clipper Rio is designed to meet an expanded range of usage possibilities, Nissan said.

Mitsubishi will produce the Clipper Rio for Nissan by sales volume. Nissan consigns all of its mini vehicle production to Mitsubishi and the Suzuki Motor Corp. The Clipper Rio is the fifth mini vehicle manufactured by another automaker to be launched by Nissan under what is dubbed the original equipment manufacturing deal.

Nissan, which does not build mini vehicles, has already launched two other mini vehicles from Mitsubishi and another two from Suzuki.

The Clipper Rio is available in a wide range of model variations to meet the changing preferences of auto shoppers. Aside from traditional auto parts like the , powerful engines, chic amenities, the mini wagon is also equipped with personal chair cab ramp.

The mini wagon also offers extra luggage space, an oversize rear door for easy cargo loading and unloading, flexible seating and the responsive performance of an advanced intercooled turbo engine. Assist grips and door steps are provided for easy entry/exit by smaller adults and children and the rear door features an assist strap for easy closing. The Clipper Rio is available in four attractive body colors: black pearl, medium blue pearl, cool silver metallic and white. Prices of the new mini wagon range from 1,254,750 yen to 1,682,100 yen.

Additionally, the third largest Japanese automaker will commence sales of the redesigned Atlas F24 light-duty truck and will supply the vehicle to Isuzu Motors Ltd. and the Nissan Diesel Motor Co. for sales under their respective brands.

Japanese automakers have taken advantage of OEM deals to expand their vehicle lineups without increasing development costs or production volumes. Suzuki has provided mini vehicles to the Mazda Motor Corp. as well as to Nissan. Its mini vehicle production under OEM deals in the year to March jumped 23.2 per cent from the previous year to a new high of 134,000 units, helping its plants to operate at full capacity.

According to the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, sales of mini cars - vehicles with engine capacities of 660 cubic centimeters or less - reached a record 2.02 million in 2006 and are expected to remain near this level in 2007.

Nissan's North American operations are based in Nashville and the automaker has U.S. plants in Smyrna, Decherd and in Canton, Mississippi. The Japanese automaker is struggling to compete closely with both the domestic and foreign auto manufacturers by launching more cars and campaigns to bolster the goal.

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