Nissan's radical city car is there if Australia has the market
The most successful of Japan's boxy Gen-Y city cars, the Nissan Cube, is finally firming for Australia.
The compact Cube was previously rejected as too radical and too expensive for local buyers, but things could change — and fast — after a European preview last week.
Nissan Australia now believes there could be a place for the car — and it could give the company an edge against Toyota, which is still struggling to find a Gen-Y niche for Australia.
“It's an interesting car that would give us a unique proposition for Gen-Y. It's something I believe is lacking in the Australian market,” says Ross Booth, the new general manager of marketing at Nissan Australia.
The Cube has an 80kW 1.5-litre engine, fuel consumption of 5.15 litres/km and a CVT automatic gearbox. Its boxy body has two rows of folding bench seats.
Japan's twentysomethings love it and customise it to their individual preferences.
Booth has been won over by the car. But he knows it will not be a straightforward sell to Australian customers or to Japanese management.
To succeed, he says the car needs to be priced right and sell in enough volume to fund a proper launch.
“It's the business equation of volume and price to do the job.”
But he sounds a warning on the likely price, which will be much higher than Nissan's current Micra price leader at $14,990.
“It's going to be closer to $30,000 than $20,000. Will Generation Y fork out that amount to be different?” Booth asks.
He says final decisions will have to wait for the next-generation Cube, probably next year.
The Cube has been a top-10 seller in Japan since 2003, but its appeal to Gen-Y is the reason Nissan wants it to get an edge on Toyota.
Toyota has had nothing like the Cube since it canned its Daihatsu division in Australia, though it has created an all-new Scion brand in the US to lure younger buyers.
“Scion works in the US, but would it work in Australia? We don't know,” Booth says. “And we'd have to establish the market.”
Do you agree the Cube is the car for Aussie Gen-Y? Have your say below.