By on October 6, 2010

With sales of its aging city car circling the toilet, Roger Penske’s Smart USA has reached a deal with Nissan to sell a Smart-branded version of a Nissan-developed four-door B-segment car, likely the Versa. Though Penske’s organization apparently pushed for and announced the deal, and the model will be exclusive to the US, the Detroit News calls the move “part of the growing cooperation between the Renault-Nissan Alliance and Daimler AG.” Penske says

We are proud to be a partner with both Daimler and Nissan, two companies focused on bringing high-quality, fuel-efficient products to the U.S. market
With the five-seat, American-size Smart coming from Nissan, the forthcoming Smart ForFour (which Daimler is developing in partnership with Renault) seems unlikely to make a stateside appearance. This despite considerable cost reductions compared to previous Smart models by co-developing with Renault, creating a modular platform with common engines, and building the ForFour in Eastern Europe. After all, you can can work all you want to make a make a European car cheaper, but rebadging a Mexico-built Japanese model will always be cheaper. Besides, Americans won’t know the difference… right?
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18 Comments on “Smart’s Savior: The Nissan Versa (or Micra?)...”


  • avatar
    Zackman

    Maybe this is out in left field, but in view of consolidation taking place at warp speed in many industries, I see it happening to car dealers as well. Have one dealership for the domestic three (GM, Ford, Chrysler), one for European biggies (VW, BMW, Volvo, MB), one for the Japanese biggies (Toyota, Honda, Nissan) and one for everything else. Auto Wal-Mart!

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      The more successful dealers (and dealer groups) already do this to a large extent, though usually not in a single megapoint, and traditional rivals are usually not found at the same location.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    The rendering looks more like a Micra than a Versa. A rebadged Micra would make sense as a bridge to the next-gen Renault/Nissan/Smart 4-dr hatch.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s what I thought at first too, but the Micra isn’t built in Mexico. That would seem to put it out of contention.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Not yet, anyway. Nissan currently builds the K13 in China, India, and Thailand, but they also said there would be five assembly points for it.

    • 0 avatar

      Was thinking the same myself, that’s a sketch of a rebadged Micra not a Versa. Autocar reckon the same thing, and opine the US Micra/Smart is a stop-gap to help flagging interest in the US while Renault-Nissan cook up something better for an international relaunch of the forFour…

    • 0 avatar
      PaulieWalnut

      You should hope it’s not the new Micra. It got fairly savaged in my local newspaper today:

      http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/motors/2010/1006/1224280455558.html

    • 0 avatar
      Roundel

      Well it seems that splateagle has the exact same sentiments that I posted in the other thread!
      Its certianly not a Versa, the position of the antenna and the side profile give that away quickly.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Automotive News indicates that it’s likely on the new Nissan V-platform which is also used by the Micra:
      http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20101006/OEM04/101009916/1400
       
      The Versa is also due to move to that platform for 2013 …

  • avatar
    segfault

    Considering that the Versa just got a two-star safety rating from NHTSA, it may be hard for Smart to keep up their hoopla about having safe small cars:
    http://blogs.cars.com/kickingtires/2010/10/new-nhtsa-safety-ratings-released.html

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    So that gives Chrysler some company. They, too, are hoping they can tide-over their dealers of “hip and trendy European microcars” until the Mothership delivers another product.

  • avatar
    cmoibenlepro

    Ugliest car ever.

  • avatar
    Mercennarius

    The Nissan Micra is a good car, hopefully it can save SMART otherise their doomed. If Daimler was smart they would rebadge Nissan Leafs to sell…

  • avatar
    daga

    So Renault-Nissan wouldn’t sell cars to a Penske owned Saturn brand, but will to a Penske controled Smart USA brand?  That seems rather inconsistent.

    • 0 avatar
      Mercennarius

      Daimler has partnered with Nissan, thus why Daimlers SMART brand is able to rebadge Nissan cars.

      The Saturn brand was a terrible venture, Nissan saw this which is why they never accepted the offer.

  • avatar
    moedaman

    Americans won’t know the difference… right?

    That’s because americans won’t buy this car either.

  • avatar
    kjs

    Oh wow. Was the Juke inspired by the previous Micra (K12)?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nissan_micra#March.2FMicra_K12_.282002.E2.80.932007.29


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