The Truth About Cars » Nissan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 20 Mar 2015 17:19:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Nissan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/nissan/ Rental Car Review: 2015 Nissan Rogue Select http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/rental-car-review-2015-nissan-rogue-select/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/rental-car-review-2015-nissan-rogue-select/#comments Sat, 14 Mar 2015 13:40:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1020361 Back when I was a kid in the 90s, the word “select” seemed to mean something. Our town of 30,000 had one select soccer team which entertained over a hundred kids at tryouts every year for fifteen coveted spots.  We had one select baseball team—a team that was so good that a future major leaguer got cut from it. […]

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Back when I was a kid in the 90s, the word “select” seemed to mean something. Our town of 30,000 had one select soccer team which entertained over a hundred kids at tryouts every year for fifteen coveted spots.  We had one select baseball team—a team that was so good that a future major leaguer got cut from it. To be considered “select” was to among the most elite of the elite. You had to be, you know…selected.

Well, nowadays, “select” soccer teams are limited to the number of kids whose parents can afford to write a check for the uniform.  My little suburb now has five entries into the regional select soccer league, and there are multiple other leagues that have sprung up, as well. Anybody who wants to be “select,” or more to the point, anybody whose parents want to say that they had a kid on the “select” soccer or basketball or baseball team, can do so.

Therefore, it makes sense that in today’s “You’re all winners!” society that the worst vehicle that ever I’ve had the misfortune to drive is called “Select.” To be more specific, it’s called the Nissan Rogue Select.

For the 2014 model year, Nissan introduced a new version of its compact CUV, the Rogue. However, as is prone to happen when new models are released, the Rogue’s MSRP crept into the mid-twenties, leaving Nissan without a player in the fleet and entry-level crossover market.

Never fear. The tooling already existed for Nissan to continue cranking out the old version of the Rogue with limited content—we’ll call this the “Malibu” Classic approach.  It’s difficult to know how successful this has been from a sales perspective, as Nissan fails to separate the Select from the regular Rogue in its sales reporting. However, on the fine Nebraska winter day when I was given a brand-new Rogue Select with less than 1K on the clock as an “upgrade,” the Select was abundantly available at the rental car counter.

It’s at this point in most of the buff book reviews that they talk about the glorious locale that the OEM has selected for the press preview. Well, for my glamorous trip, I was going to drive from Omaha, Nebraska to Des Moines, Iowa on I-80 East, and then back again on I-80 West. It’s straight. It’s relatively flat. It’s 117 miles. There are no lights. There are barely any exits. There’s a whole lot of nothing. And when you think about what most people who would consider purchasing a Rogue Select plan to do with it, it’s a perfect proving ground.

Since I have no desire to hurt anybody at Nissan’s feelings, we’ll use the POP (Positive-Opportunity-Positive) method of reviewing the Rogue Select.

 

Positive:

At no point did I feel like the Select was going to break down. It provided reliable transportation.

The gas mileage was not horrific. Although my trip was 100% highway miles, which should have returned around 28 MPG according to the EPA, I averaged 24.2 MPG.

Ummm…give me a second. I’m sure I can think of something else. Hmmm. Okay, I’ve got nothing. Let’s move on to the Opportunity part.

Opportunity:

The visibility was horrible. The A pillar is positioned so that the Rogue Select manages to do something I hadn’t previously experienced in a car—it has a forward blind spot. Parking became an adventure.

It took me a solid two minutes of looking to find the side mirror adjusting knob. It wasn’t near the mirrors, or on the center console, or near the power windows. Nope, it was right above the hood release.

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The stereo sounded somewhat like two tin cans tied together with string. Each adjustment I made to the EQ made it worse. It was unable to figure out how to read my iPhone 5S, either via USB or Bluetooth. I got this message every time that I tried to use it.

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Luckily, though, you’ll drown out the stereo every time you use the accelerator—and not in a good way. The Select protests vehemently any time the go pedal is used in aggression, and the tire noise on the highway is downright offensive.

There was no seating position that I could find over the course of four hours that was even remotely comfortable. There was a large hump in the middle of the seat back that forced my 5’9″ frame into a sort of contortionist pose. I was either too far back for my legs or too close for my arms, no matter what I did.

The CVT had real problems with things like “hills.” At the slightest hint of an incline, the CVT lurched, forcing the engine to whine and complain up to about 4500 RPM.

The cargo area was insufficient for a 27″ suitcase.

In theory, it was AWD, but the button that was smartly situated right below the Power Windows adjuster did absolutely nothing when I pushed it. I’m sure that this could be remedied by reading the owner’s manual, but its function was in no way intuitive.

The “Frosted Steel” color of the exterior was just plain offensive. I hadn’t seen a car company ruin “Blue” up until this point. I have now.

These wheel covers are the automotive equivalent of Dick Van Dyke’s British accent in “Mary Poppins.” In other words, nobody is fooled.

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The back seat was barely any roomier than you’d find in another Nissan offering—the Versa. I sat in the back for a second, just to check it out, and immediately I wanted to get out. Fine for children, but adults will get claustrophobic in a hurry.

You’d think a car this lame would at least have an awesome price, right? Nope. A 2015 Rogue Select, configured exactly like this one, will run you $23,255. Do you know what else you could get for $23,255? You’re about a grand away from a Chevrolet Equinox, which is light years away from this thing. Heck, you’re only a couple of hundred bucks away from a Honda CR-V. You could buy this E-Class Wagon two and a half times! Oops, wrong site. But you catch my drift, yo. For as terrible as this vehicle is, you’re not saving nearly enough money to make it worth the suffering.

Positive:

Oh, man, I have to come up with another positive now? Well, it did have a USB port. Although it proved to be completely useless for actually reading my iPhone, it did prove to be suitable for charging it. No, wait, I’ve got another one. The steering wheel buttons were intuitive and functioned well. Whew.

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It would be one thing if the Rogue Select were only available for fleet/rental usage, but Nissan actually has the nerve to sell this thing as a retail unit to the general public. If you could get one for $18K, I could maybe see a purpose for it as a Kia Soul fighter. However, at $20K and above, it’s just light years behind its competition, and literally a model year or two behind, as well. The only thing this car should be selected for is a Buy Here Pay Here lot in about three years.

It’s the worst new car value in today’s marketplace, period.

 

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Review: 2015 Nisssan Murano Platinum (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/review-2015-nisssan-murano-platinum-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/review-2015-nisssan-murano-platinum-video/#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2015 12:45:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1015554 If you look at the numbers, sales of the Murano are on fire with a 72% sales jump in January of 2015 vs 2014 thanks to the new model. Looking more closely however, you’ll see that there was practically nowhere to go but up as the Murano barely outsold the now-dead Venza. Putting that in […]

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2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Front-001.CR2

If you look at the numbers, sales of the Murano are on fire with a 72% sales jump in January of 2015 vs 2014 thanks to the new model. Looking more closely however, you’ll see that there was practically nowhere to go but up as the Murano barely outsold the now-dead Venza. Putting that in perspective, Nissan’s compact Rogue is the 6th best-selling SUV in America and the Murano is 26 rungs lower on the sales ladder. Nissan sells more Rogues in 6 days than Muranos in an entire month. Rather than killing the model as Toyota did with the Venza, Nissan decided to re-invent the formerly bland soft-roader into a flagship crossover. This actually makes sense, because it helps keep the mid-sized 5-seat CUV from being the awkward “middle child” between the 7-seat Rogue and the 7-seat Pathfinder. Does the all-new and all-curvy Murano have what it takes to compete with the Edge, Grand Cherokee or even the RX 350?

Exterior

The exterior of the 2015 model is a sharp departure from the last generation and is as head-turning as the last model was bland. I wasn’t sure what to think about the Murano when it was announced, the first pictures looked like someone had confused a product launch with a concept car. While much of that had to do with the dramatic angles and color of the launch vehicle, the Murano certainly looks more exciting than Ford’s Edge or it’s Korean look-alike (the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport). Thankfully the engineers responsible for the 2015 model didn’t let the questionably styled Juke influence them.

The first clue that the Murano is a production car is the long front overhang since it remains a FWD crossover with optional AWD. Contrary to what some folks I met during the week thought, there is zero relation to the RWD Infiniti QX70 (the artist formerly known as FX37 / FX50). Helping disguise the overhang is a tall hood, pointy snout, heapings of chrome, and angles that draw the eye rearwards. The dramatic lines gyrate up and down and culminate with bulging tail lamps at the rear. As polarizing as the Murano seems in pictures, in person reactions were entirely positive and garnered more looks than most cars I’ve driven in the last 12 months.

2015 Nissan Murano Interior Center Console.CR2-001

Interior

With a starting price of $29,560, Nissan was able to equip the interior with more soft touch plastics than most of the competition save the luxury and near-luxury cross shops. This helps even the top-level Platinum we tested feel more harmonious than, for instance, top-end trims of the Grand Cherokee where a leather dashboard and real-wood are nestled next to hard plastic center consoles and questionable faux-metal finishes. As with the exterior, Nissan took some bold steps inside as well with a “floating” pleather hood over the gauge cluster and dramatic shapes galore.

Out tester was outfitted with “mocha” leather and trim panels that were a cross between silver-colored faux wood and brushed metal. (Faux-brushed-wood?) Meanwhile the light “cashmere” interiors get trim panels with brown “spots” tossed in giving it a white-washed birch appearance. You’d better like the trim, because there’s a ton of it. The faux-brushed-wood starts with large panels on the doors, a band running across the dashboard, and a large expanse covering the center console and a strip bisecting the center armrest. The overall style is decidedly funky, but to my eye is barely escaped crossing over into “bizarre.” Unlike some reviews I have read, the cashmere interior is my favorite because the lighter color and dashboard shapes make the interior feel cavernous.

2015 Nissan Murano Interior Seats.CR2

As with many of Nissan’s latest products, front seat comfort is exceptional, scoring easily above the Lexus, Cadillac and Lincoln competition for my 6-foot frame. Seats in the 2016 Edge and Santa Fe miss the mark slightly, and the Grand Cherokee’s seats are probably the stiffest of any crossover giving you the impression you’re sitting “on the seat not in the seat.” Sadly the passenger seat lacks the same range of motion as the driver’s seat and you should know that lumbar support is of the 2-way variety.

The Murano’s new 7-inch LCD  instrument panel is standard on all trims including the base “S”.  Unlike Jeep, Nissan keeps analog dials for the tachometer and speedometer leaving the LCD for navigation, infotainment, trip computer functions, and other read-outs. Also standard is dual-zone climate control and 39.6 cubic feet of cargo room. I was surprised to find that despite being smaller and “swoopier” than the Pathfinder, the Murano has nearly as much room behind the second row as the larger CUV (third row folded.) The generous cargo hold and comfy front seats are the prime reason to get the Murano over compact crossover options.

2015 Nissan Murano Nissan Connect Radio

Infotainment

While the 7-inch LCD disco-dash is standard, Nissan reserves the 8-inch touchscreen NissanConnect infotainment system for SV trims ($32,620 starting) or as an $860 option on the S trim. Making a different system just for base S trims strikes me as an odd choice, especially since the functionality is largely the same except that it lacks some touch gesture suopport and navigation. The software is a revised version of what is found in the Altima and Rogue with visual and functional refinements, built-in apps and certain smartphone-app integrated features.

In addition to the screen-size bump, the 8-inch system supports multi-touch gestures and built-in navigation software. Regardless of the version you get, Nissan has expanded the voice command library to be competitive with MyFord Touch and Chrysler uConnect. The software proved to be responsive and easy to use, although some features were less intuitive than competitive systems. Our model had the up-level 11-speaker Bose system which is among the best in this class. Unlike many systems, rear USB port link to the head unit and may be used as a media source. (Most rear USB ports are charge-only.)

2015 Nissan Murano Engine.CR2-001

Drivetrain

Sideways under the hood you’ll find the same 3.5L V6 (VQ35DE) as a variety of Nissan vehicles mated to one of Nissan’s continuously variable transaxles (CVT). Because of the CVT, power is tuned down from the high-output variants to 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. Despite sharing engines with the Pathfinder, the transmission is apparently different and more similar to the last generation Murano. The result is a tow rating of just 1,500 lbs vs 5,000lbs in the 3-row Nissan. While towing in mid-size SUVs and CUVs has fallen out of vogue, that’s 500lbs less than the 190 horsepower four-cylinder Santa Fe Sport and on par with a RAV4. Nissan tells us that few tow with vehicles in this category, and they are probably right. Mid-size utility owners like me that do tow should limit their search to the Grand Cherokee, the only option in this segment capable of towing over 7,000lbs.

Thanks to the CVT and a slippery coefficient of drag, fuel economy has improved dramatically for 2015 coming in at 21/28/24 (City/Highway/Combined). Despite AWD adding some mechanical loss and 130lbs to the picture, the EPA numbers remain the same as the FWD variant. You will find more power in the competition, but you’ll be hard pressed to find better fuel economy even in the 2.4L non-turbo Santa Fe Sport. Our FWD tester barely beat the EPA average at 24.2 MPG.

2015 Nissan Murano Interior Instrument Cluster Gauges.CR2

Drive

Driving dynamics weren’t the forte of the last generation Murano and this acorn hasn’t fallen too far from the tree. Nissan chose to tune the chassis toward the softer and more comfortable side of this category giving it a plush ride despite the 20-inch wheels our model sported. As you’d expect, the CVT is an efficient but not especially engaging companion. Thanks to the softer suspension,  235-width tires and plenty of body roll, certain models of the Grand Cherokee actually score higher when it comes to handling, and I’m not talking about the SRT model. The Murano doesn’t handle poorly, in fact I expected less grip than I received on my favorite mountain roads, just don’t expect the curvy Nissan to dance with the new Edge Sport. The steering is numb but accurate, the brake pedal is moderately firm and the action linear.

Thanks to the CVT and a 3,800lb curb weight, our front wheel drive model ran from 0-60 in 7 seconds flat which is a little faster than the V6 Grand Cherokee and on par with the Santa Fe Sport 2.0T and the V6 and turbo versions of the Ford Edge. Obviously the Edge Sport and its 2.7L twin-turbo V6 and the two different V8 Jeeps are in a separate category in this regard.

2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Side.CR2

Spanning from just under $30,000 to $43,745, the Murano is one of the less expensive options in this tiny segment. Only the Sotrento (available as either a 2-row or 3-row crossover in most trims for 2016) and Santa Fe Sport manage to undercut the Murano when adjusting for feature content. Despite the high value, the Murano’s flagship status ends up working thanks to the quality and consistency of the interior, something that can’t really be said of the Edge or Grand Cherokee despite those vehicles offering high-end options and features not found on this Nissan.

When viewed as the budget alternative to the Cadillac SRX, Lincoln MKX or Lexus RX 350 the Murano also fares well despite not offering the same level of high-end features. While the luxury set offers improved leather, real wood, hybrid options and luxury service, the Murano fights back with a polished ride, higher fuel economy, superb front seats and a sticker that is at least $6,000 less. While I’d personally buy the new MKX, I can’t say the $6,500 extra for a comparably equipped model is entirely “worth it.”

If you’re looking for the crossover with the most capable 4WD/AWD system, that’s easily the Grand Cherokee. If you want the best handling option, that’d be the Grand Cherokee SRT and Edge Sport. The Santa Fe Sport is the discount player delivering high value with me-too styling. The Murano, unsurprisingly, strikes a comfy balance in the middle of the segment with exceptional fuel economy. If you’re looking for the best highway cruiser for a wine-tour weekend in Napa for four, the Murano is exactly the tall Maxima you’re looking for.

Nissan provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.37 Seconds

0-60: 7.07 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 15.44 Seconds @ 95 MPH

Average Economy: 24.2 MPG over 649 miles

 

2015 Nissan Murano Engine.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Engine.CR2-001 . 2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Front 2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Front-001.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Front-002.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Front-003.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Rear.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Rear 2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Rear-001.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Rear-001 2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Rear-002.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Rear-003.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Rear-004.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Side.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Interior 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Cargo Area.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Cargo Area 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Cargo Area-001 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Center Console.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Center Console.CR2-001 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Dashboard.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Dashboard.CR2-001 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Dashboard.CR2-002 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Dashboard.CR2-003 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Dashboard.CR2-004 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Dashboard 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Dashboard-001 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Drivers Side 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Instrument Cluster Gauges.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Instrument Cluster Gauges 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Rear Seats Folded 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Rear Seats.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Rear Seats 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Seat Controls.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Interior Seats.CR2 2015 Nissan Murano Nissan Connect Radio 2015 Nissan Murano Nissan Connect Radio-001 2015 Nissan Murano Wheels.CR2

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Nissan GT-R Approaches 10,000 U.S. Sales After Best-Ever January http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/nissan-gt-r-approaches-10000-u-s-sales-best-ever-january/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/nissan-gt-r-approaches-10000-u-s-sales-best-ever-january/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 14:09:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1009074 Following a six-year period in which an average of only 55 GT-Rs were sold in America during the first month on the calendar, Nissan USA reported 101 GT-R sales in January 2015. The GT-R’s 28% year-over-year increase hides a 110% improvement compared with January 2013 and a 405% improvement compared with January 2012, equal to […]

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2015 Nissan GT-R red profileFollowing a six-year period in which an average of only 55 GT-Rs were sold in America during the first month on the calendar, Nissan USA reported 101 GT-R sales in January 2015.

The GT-R’s 28% year-over-year increase hides a 110% improvement compared with January 2013 and a 405% improvement compared with January 2012, equal to an extra 81 sales.

This sudden January uptick comes after sales in 2014 jumped 16% to 1436 units, the third-highest-volume year in the GT-R’s seven-year history. 2014 was down 17%, or 294 units, from the pace Nissan set in the GT-R’s first year on the market, 2008.

Over the final five months of 2014, U.S. GT-R volume shot up 63%. December sales doubled to 156 units. August volume, at 208 units, was the best month for the GT-R since November 2008.

GT-R sales chatThe January improvement is therefore not out of the ordinary given the recent history of Nissan’s junior supercar. More importantly, it’s noteworthy because the car – frequently updated but never thoroughly reengineered with an all-new introduction since a different guy became Russian president – is soon going to crack the 10K barrier in U.S. sales. Through the end of January, 9397 GT-Rs were sold in America.

True, the GT-R has been helped along by consistent horsepower improvements, a boon to a car that takes speed as seriously as a minivan takes its responsibility to provide redundant cupholders. I’m told that Nissan USA employees were offered spectacular short-term lease deals, a factor which may have contributed to the recent spike.

But an automaker deserves credit when they sells their most expensive product in healthy numbers even as that product becomes firmly entrenched in old age. Nissan has managed to keep the GT-R sufficiently current in a market that always wants tomorrow’s car. Perhaps this says something about the degree to which the GT-R was futuristic when it arrived at the dawn of a recession.

While the GT-R continues to earn plaudits, one key high-end sports car continues to sell far more frequently. The Porsche 911, which is sold in a wide range of configurations, was up 33% to 1052 sales in January alone. For every GT-R sold by Nissan USA in 2014, Porsche sold more than seven 911s. Meanwhile, over the last four months, BMW USA reported 573 i8 sales to Nissan’s 519 GT-Rs. (Chevrolet reported 11,016 Corvette sales during that period, albeit with a much lower base price.)

On the other hand, the GT-R nearly outsold the Dodge Viper and Audi R8 combined in 2014. The fact that a $101,000+ Nissan was outselling anything at all in its seventh year is a testament to the GT-R’s appeal.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Nissan Xterra Leaving US Market After 2015 Model Year http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/nissan-xterra-leaving-us-market-2015-model-year/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/nissan-xterra-leaving-us-market-2015-model-year/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 15:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1007842 Looking at buying a new Nissan Xterra? Better pull the trigger soon, as the SUV will leave the U.S. market after the 2015 model year. Edmunds reports the Xterra is leaving these shores for regulatory reasons, with Nissan finding no business case in bringing the SUV up to code for an audience that also adores […]

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2015 Nissan Xterra

Looking at buying a new Nissan Xterra? Better pull the trigger soon, as the SUV will leave the U.S. market after the 2015 model year.

Edmunds reports the Xterra is leaving these shores for regulatory reasons, with Nissan finding no business case in bringing the SUV up to code for an audience that also adores the Jeep Wrangler. Updating the Xterra to meet regulatory and environmental requirements was deemed too costly for such a low volume product. CAFE regulations also don’t favor the Xterra’s small, body-on-frame SUV layout, making the updates a tougher sell.

The automaker moved 16,505 Xterras in 2014, a 7 percent decline compared to 2013’s 17,766 units sold. The SUV also faces stiff competition from crossovers like the Buick Encore, Toyota RAV4, and Nissan’s own Rogue, nearly 200,000 of which left the lot last year.

For those few who will buy one of the last Xterras, features for 2015 include NissanConnect, a USB connection for the iPod, and a new color named SolarFlare Yellow.

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A Leaf Falls In January: After 23 Consecutive Increases, Nissan USA Reports Leaf Decline http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/leaf-falls-january-23-consecutive-increases-nissan-usa-reports-leaf-decline/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/leaf-falls-january-23-consecutive-increases-nissan-usa-reports-leaf-decline/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 15:54:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1006802 In the same way that consecutive games without a point draw attention to the fact that Sidney Crosby previously achieved a 25-game point streak, the Nissan’s Leaf slight decline in the lowest-volume month on the calendar shines a light on what was a 23-month streak of year-over-year improvements. Leaf volume slid 15% in January 2015, […]

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2015 Nissan Leaf whiteIn the same way that consecutive games without a point draw attention to the fact that Sidney Crosby previously achieved a 25-game point streak, the Nissan’s Leaf slight decline in the lowest-volume month on the calendar shines a light on what was a 23-month streak of year-over-year improvements.

Leaf volume slid 15% in January 2015, a 182-unit drop. On a monthly basis, Leaf volume increased every month between February 2013 and December 2014, year-over-year.

It’s not a high-volume car, the Leaf, but it’s not so exclusive as to be called rare. Leaf volume has risen beyond 1000 units in each of the last 23 months. Average monthly U.S. volume measured 2911 units in the second half of 2014, up from an average of 2129 monthly sales in the second half of 2013. Leaf volume shot above 3000 units in May, July, August, and December of 2014. (The Chevrolet Volt has only topped the 3K mark once, in August 2013. Toyota has only sold more than 2000 Prius Plug-Ins in a single month twice.)

In fact, that high December output – U.S. sales jumped 23% to 3102 in the final month of 2014 – was partly to blame for the Leaf’s first decline in two years. “Increased demand in December from customers looking to take advantage of federal and state incentives at the end of the tax year pulled some sales ahead,” Brian Brockman, senior manager of corporate communications for Nissan, told TTAC yesterday. And while Nissan doesn’t see low fuel prices having long-term impact on the EV market, Brockman said, “We are also seeing some short-term effects of historically low fuel prices on EV demand among buyers who are solely focused on the economic benefits.”

Some? In the case of the Leaf, very little at all. Even in January, the lowest-volume month for the Leaf since February 2013, the all-electric Nissan still outsold a long list of conventional cars, SUVs, crossovers, and vans, including a large number of Nissan products: NV, Q40, Armada, Xterra, Titan, Quest, Q70, and many more. The Leaf sold more than twice as often as the approaching-replacement Volt (not that the Leaf is a spring chicken), 43% more often than the Scion FR-S, more than three times more often than the Volvo V60.

January 2015 Nissan USA Leaf sales chartThe Volt, FR-S, and V60 aren’t exactly mainstream machines. But that’s not really the point. In a slow month for the Leaf, it was wildly more popular than truly rare cars. In a slow month for the Leaf, it outsold approximately 47% of all passenger car nameplates in January. In a slow month for the Leaf, it outsold all-electrics like the Mercedes-Benz B-Class, Volkswagen e-Golf, Smart Fortwo EV, Fiat 500E, Chevrolet Spark EV, Ford Focus EV, Kia Soul EV, Toyota RAV4 EV, and Mitsubishi i MiEV combined.

It’s worth noting that while HybridCars.com estimates that Tesla sold 1300 copies of the Model S, the Tesla is mostly alone in its electrified nature at the Model S’s price point. The same can not be said for the degree of direct competition faced by the Leaf. Indirectly? Toyota, for instance, sold more than 12,000 total Prius family cars in January.

Regardless of what the competition manages, Nissan would prefer to see Leaf sales continue to improve. Crosby fans also want to see Sidney do more than record points in back-to-back games after being held scoreless in five of six. That’s The Truth About Hockey.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Nissan March SL 1.6 – Brazil Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-2015-nissan-march-sl-1-6-brazil-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-2015-nissan-march-sl-1-6-brazil-edition/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 14:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1003258 Walking up to the pearl white, Japanese-Brazilian, new Nissan March, I smile. Can’t help it. It looks so cute. Especially in this top-of-the-line version all prettied up, with the bigger (and good-looking) wheels and its funky design that though more grown up than before, is still playful. Plastichrome abounds and can be found in the […]

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Walking up to the pearl white, Japanese-Brazilian, new Nissan March, I smile. Can’t help it. It looks so cute. Especially in this top-of-the-line version all prettied up, with the bigger (and good-looking) wheels and its funky design that though more grown up than before, is still playful. Plastichrome abounds and can be found in the front, sides and back. I instantly warm up to it, I want to like it.

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Though this is the New March and has suffered a re-skin, it’s still a narrow car, that looks quite tall and short. Some don’t like that, comparing it to roller skates and what not, but coming from Brazil, the land of hatches, I’m used to the shape. The headlights are new and less cute than the previous model’s though not overly aggressive. The fog lights are sort of lost in a sea of chrome, but I have seen worse. The new grille helps the overall affect, with a new more sophisticated shape, while the Nissan badge now has a bright V surrounding it. Didn’t like it in the pictures, but in person it works.

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Looking at it from the side, I can’t tell much of a difference from the previous model. While the new March’s new front is a step up from before, it is the side profile of this car that has always got me. Short, high snout, tall greenhouse and a low beltline. No wanton creases and bulges. No need for that on such a short car. The signature half arch shape of the windows is there and adds a bit of drama and a nostalgic hint. Thankfully the roof doesn’t follow the windows and is straighter. All good, as it helps in interior space.

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Going out to the back, the quirky looks of the previous model are all there. The design here is not so clean, but the unusual shape of the backlights adds a real degree of interest. Sadly, they still jut out like there’s no tomorrow. The back window is a little small and I look for the parking sensors. I notice then that dimple or wart that I hadn’t seen on previous Marches. I remember this is the top of the line, so that must be the camera. Honestly, it looks like an aftermarket improvisation though.

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I decide to start my exploration of the March’s innards backwards, so I pop the hatch. Nice, all covered in carpet. On so many Brazilian cars there is always visible metal in the trunk, not so here. Of course, I suspect lowlier Marches will not be so well-finished. The rest is normal for hatches in this type of car. A smallish volume of around 265 L. Good for supermarket runs. On a vacation, a family of four, presumably without a baby, must pack light.

I open one of the back doors and slide in. Here the benefit of the square roof is evident. At 6 feet tall, I have no need to angle my neck and can sit up perfectly straight. In the Versa, this car’s sedan version, I do have to cock my head to the side. The Versa though provides much more leg room, but a quick look up front reveals to me the front seat I’m sitting behind is pushed back and I still have some space. Another nice touch, even back here, power windows. Again, not so common on small Brazilian cars and part of the SL package.

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Jumping into the driver’s seat I think this car looks very solid. The finishing is simple, but good with some variation in color and well-screwed together. There are buttons on the steering wheel and the wheel itself feels thick in my hand (as it should) and has some nice texture. The center stack contains the media center that compromises radio, GPS and the backup camera. I also like its shape. Gone is the old, gimmicky, childish one that looked like a famous dinosaur baby from the 90s. In is a new one, that looked quite conventional in pictures (making me straight off not like it), but in person, and maybe because of the version, it is well-finished and there are no black plastic slabs covering gaping holes.

I put in the key, put it in reverse, the back camera view lights up immediately with a medley of lines that help parking. I adjust the radio, quite easily, see that the buttons on the steering wheel serve to control it and also your paired phone. For free the first three years after purchase, Nissan offers its Connect. It works together with the radio and you can access such things as Facebook and points of interest. If you are invited to an event on the social media, the GPS will trace the route instantly. I’m sure there are other things it can do, but by now I’m anxious to drive the March as I am anticipating good things.

I close the door and, oh no!. The handle does not angle up anymore like in the past. The is some bright work there and controls for all windows, but when I closed the door it pushed my leg back in. Now, I’m a tallish guy with quite a bit of gut (110 kg), but I’m not an NBA player. I drive with my legs a bit open, but that handle is forcing my leg straight ahead. I’ve driven old Beetles, I’ve owned a Ford Ka. I have driven all kinds of Fiats. I recently drove the ostensibly smaller Volkswagen up! and none forced me to sit like I didn’t want or made me immediately uncomfortable. There is no reason for the handle to be so thick, it takes away too much from the limited space. As now I’m feeling grumpy, I notice the pockets on the doors are so thin, they barely hold anything. It’s been a while since I’ve sat in something so poorly thought out. To add a bit more salt to the wound, the seat belts are non-adjustable.

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Remembering the Mistsubishi Pajero (Montero) I recently drove I recall disliking it because when in second gear the knob would eat into my thigh. Now this one is forcing me to drive with my leg in an uncomfortable position. I fidget then with the gear stick and notice, this is weird, too. It’s a little further back than in other smalls cars I’ve driven. This is probably the result of center stack madness. It has become conventional that even in a small car the center stack must touch the floor. Cupholders are also a must. Owing to that, the gear box has been pushed further back. Before even taking it off for a drive, I start to move the gears. Its placement forces an unnatural, shorter movement of the arm. It’s simply too far back.

Adjusting the seat, I find the large seats are good enough, though the cushion is a bit short. I can place the seat far away enough from the dash to feel comfortable (but, damn that door handle). The steering wheel can be moved up and down (as can the seat), but not forward and aft. It becomes apparent the wheel is tilted off slightly to the left, but most won’t notice. On the good side the three pedals are placed far enough apart (sometimes a critical point in small cars) and there is a footrest.

So, off to driving. The first surprise is that the electric steering is extremely light, guess most people like that. However, it is impossible that most people will not be bothered by this car’s second huge fail. That gearbox. What are they thinking? Every gear change, thump! First, thump! Second, thump! Thump, thump, thump! Fast, slow, noise, noise. Ok, I know Nissan wants to push the CVT, but did they forget to add a piece to this car? I’ve read many reviews on the car. No one mentions it (though some hint on it). I call the dealer, complain, the counter guy says it’s normal, but that I should bring it in. Glad I’m not the only crazy one out there hearing things.

With a frown now on my face, I hit the usual spots I like to test cars. Such a sad thing, because in all other regards the car is exemplary.

It uses a 1.6 16v, 111 hp (either on gasoline or ethanol) engine. It pulls strongly and is very responsive. Accelerations are crisp, and the engine revs nicely when solicited. The 16 valves make it a round engine and a pleasure to drive, rarely out of breath (it tops out at 7,000 rpm). According to Nissan, the top speed is 191 km/h. I somehow doubt that, but I do believe the car will top 180 (or get close) and can be driven effortlessly at 160 km/h (100 mph) though noise will be high as there is little sound insulation. In the 0-100 km/h (0-60 mph), most publications peg it at around 11 seconds. So a fast little car it is.

The March takes curves very nicely too. This version uses 185/55/16 rubber. It grips nicely and doesn’t let go easily. As such it has relatively high limits, but more importantly, it is quite docile giving even an unaware driver ample chance to react when it starts to break loose. Body roll is limited and I had actual fun in the curves. So much so I even forgot the thumping for a couple of minutes because despite that huge error, engagements are soft and precise. It is quite fast, too.

Braking is all very acceptable, too. Disks only in front, it does not make lateral movements even under hard braking. ABS as according to Brazilian standards are mandatory (as are the double frontal airbags).

About town, the sight lines help it a lot. It it easy to see out of and the little lines the camera provides make parking even easier. The controls are light and don’t feel flimsy, being that most of them seem to have some padding. It is also quiet in town, though out on the highway you do hear the engine. Good thing in my book, because the noises the engine makes under acceleration is quite good. In town, like with cousin Renaults, this Nissan’s engine sounds a little wheezy at idle.

You can see part of the hood from the driver’s seat. Well, you can see the headlamps. They butt out too, so you always see those little humps. Kind of reminded me of and old Fiat Coupé. The fact is this a light car, only 982 kg, so it is nimble and quick in the city and fast on the road. The lightness makes it fun to drive and the electric steering doesn’t detract much from that and it does harden up some when faster.

The previous March came from Mexico to Brazil. It undercut the competition by a fair margin and was a good buy as content levels were also high. Now, the new March is the first Nissan to roll off the line at Nissan’s new factory in Rezende, Rio de Janeiro state. The design is more grown up and the interior has been much improved because it now looks like a car and not a toy. However, some things have gotten undeniably worse. The constricting door handles and unbelievable gearbox are huge setbacks. Plus, small things like the non-adjustable seat belts or the badly integrated backup camera speak of cost-cutting.

The first Brazilian Nissan is then a bit of a dud. The price has risen, being that this SL that I drove stickers for around R$44,000. For that kind of money there is a plethora of cars that offer even more equipment, more space (cousin Sandero is there, Ford Ka), just a good a drive or even undercut the price without too much sacrifice in space (VW up! Or Fiat Uno).

The new Nissan March is a good car to drive, a fun car that you can toss and will respond without too much drama. Well-finished on the surface, there are too many compromises in the interior and no cost advantage to recommend it over more evolved competitors. Unless you are short. Or hard of hearing.

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Nissan: EV Charging Infrastructure Surpasses Fuel Stations In Japan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/nissan-ev-charging-infrastructure-surpasses-fuel-stations-japan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/nissan-ev-charging-infrastructure-surpasses-fuel-stations-japan/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 14:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1003682 Driving around Japan in your EV of choice? Range anxiety likely won’t be an issue, as the nation has more charging points than gas stations. Per The Japan Times, Nissan discovered the number of such points — including fast and home chargers — now total 40,000. In contrast, there are only 34,000 fuel stations for […]

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EV Charger In Japan

Driving around Japan in your EV of choice? Range anxiety likely won’t be an issue, as the nation has more charging points than gas stations.

Per The Japan Times, Nissan discovered the number of such points — including fast and home chargers — now total 40,000. In contrast, there are only 34,000 fuel stations for those in who prefer Rocket Bunnys and Rauh-Welts over Leafs and i3s. The differing figures show how quickly those points have sprung up, especially when it took decades for the oil industry to work its magic in Japan.

However, many of the 40,000 points are in the home, and therefore, not currently accessible to the motoring public. A possible remedy could come in the form of the emerging sharing economy — Airbnb, Car2Go, Uber et al — where homeowners would share their charging point with others for a small fee.

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Second-Gen Nissan Leaf Announcements Coming This Summer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/second-gen-nissan-leaf-announcements-coming-summer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/second-gen-nissan-leaf-announcements-coming-summer/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 12:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1003642 Wanting to know if the Nissan Leaf will look more conventional in its second iteration? Power and range more your concern? Can you wait until this summer? Autoblog reports news of the next-gen Leaf will likely come this summer, despite recent announcements from Chevrolet and Tesla regarding their own respective low-cost electric offerings piquing curiosity […]

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2013 Nissan Leaf. Photo courtesy Nissan.

Wanting to know if the Nissan Leaf will look more conventional in its second iteration? Power and range more your concern? Can you wait until this summer?

Autoblog reports news of the next-gen Leaf will likely come this summer, despite recent announcements from Chevrolet and Tesla regarding their own respective low-cost electric offerings piquing curiosity regarding Nissan’s EV.

The only statement to come thus far? Per Nissan North America corporate communications chief Brian Brockman during the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, “things are in the works.” He adds that the silent treatment until the weather warms up is out of concern for the potential of cannibalized pure EV sales, an issue no other automaker has to worry about.

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Chicago 2015: Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept Bows http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-nissan-370z-nismo-roadster-concept-bows/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-nissan-370z-nismo-roadster-concept-bows/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 20:03:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=998530 Another near-production-ready concept turned up at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, this one in the form of the Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept. A topless one-off of the 370Z NISMO Coupe, the roadster boasts the coupe’s 350-horsepower 3.7-liter V6, NISMO-tuned H-pipe exhaust system, upgraded suspension, and aggressive body kit. Power to the limited-slip rear goes […]

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Another near-production-ready concept turned up at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, this one in the form of the Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept.

A topless one-off of the 370Z NISMO Coupe, the roadster boasts the coupe’s 350-horsepower 3.7-liter V6, NISMO-tuned H-pipe exhaust system, upgraded suspension, and aggressive body kit. Power to the limited-slip rear goes through the paddle-shifted seven-speed auto found in other 370Z roadsters, which offers rev-matched downshifts for one’s pleasure.

Other features include: 19-inch RAYS wheels; aggressive final drive ratio; black leather/off-white Ultrasuede Recaro seats; NISMO tachometer; and Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel.

Should the one-off prove popular, Nissan would sell the production 370Z NISMO Roadster for anywhere between $52,000 and $57,000 to start, a $10,000 premium over the NISMO Coupe’s $42,000 to $47,000 price range.

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Nissan Looking Beyond Federal Credits For Leaf http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/nissan-looking-beyond-federal-credits-leaf/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/nissan-looking-beyond-federal-credits-leaf/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 14:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989562 Though Nissan has sold over 77,000 Leafs since 2010, the automaker has plans for when the federal credits end with the 200,000th unit of the popular EV. According to Ward’s Auto, Nissan North America product planning chief Pierre Loing says the automaker is looking to negotiate increasing the limit, proclaiming that the current 200,000-unit limit […]

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Though Nissan has sold over 77,000 Leafs since 2010, the automaker has plans for when the federal credits end with the 200,000th unit of the popular EV.

According to Ward’s Auto, Nissan North America product planning chief Pierre Loing says the automaker is looking to negotiate increasing the limit, proclaiming that the current 200,000-unit limit harms EV adoption:

Being the first ones on the market, we should be among the first ones to reach 200,000, and you penalize those who’ve tried to be first?

That said, even when the $7,500 credit goes away, Nissan has plans to make the Leaf more attractive, from increasing the range to reducing the cost of the EV’s lithium-ion battery pack. Loing admits that the latter’s cost issue hasn’t improved quickly enough, and worries that falling oil prices aren’t going to help much either.

He was pleased with how well the Leaf fared in 2014, however; 30,200 units left U.S. showrooms that year, an all-time record for Nissan.

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Carlypso: PHEVs To Reach 1 Percent Market Share In Q1 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/carlypso-phevs-reach-1-percent-market-share-q1-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/carlypso-phevs-reach-1-percent-market-share-q1-2015/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 11:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=988434 By the end of Q1 2015, PHEVs are expected to take 1 percent of the overall U.S. domestic market despite fuel prices continuing their downward spiral. Online used-car resell agent Carlypso reports that while just over 50 percent of U.S. new-car sales are focused on light-duty pickups, falling fuel prices haven’t done much to boost […]

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By the end of Q1 2015, PHEVs are expected to take 1 percent of the overall U.S. domestic market despite fuel prices continuing their downward spiral.

Online used-car resell agent Carlypso reports that while just over 50 percent of U.S. new-car sales are focused on light-duty pickups, falling fuel prices haven’t done much to boost sales during the January 2013 – December 2014 period from whence the report collected its data, based on a sample of 16.3 million units.

The report also looked at over 28 million car sales in the same period, finding that PHEVs and EVs like the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt and BMW i3 made up 217,217 — or 0.86 percent — of said sales. In December 2014 alone, the Leaf, Volt, i3 and Tesla Model S collectively made up over 70 percent of U.S. PHEV/EV sales, despite the average price at the pump hitting $2.43/gallon that month; the current average is $2.05/gallon, down $1.23 from a year ago.

Carlypso co-founder Nicholas Hinrichsen says the findings show that consumers aren’t changing their behavior with the pump, opting to buy whatever they want as far as features and branding are concerned. He added that a vehicle’s value and demand isn’t going to change with the oil market either, advising consumers to let investors worry about how much West Texas Intermediate will go for per barrel.

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NAIAS 2015: 2016 Nissan Titan XD Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-nissan-titan-xd-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-nissan-titan-xd-revealed/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 14:30:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=977745 Nissan is going big with its new 2016 Titan, especially with the larger Titan XD. The larger of the Titan’s two fully boxed frames, the XD’s 151.6-inch wheelbase is 20 inches longer than the standard Titan. The truck is powered by a 5-liter Cummins V8 capable of 310 horsepower and 555 lb-ft of torque, and […]

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Nissan is going big with its new 2016 Titan, especially with the larger Titan XD.

The larger of the Titan’s two fully boxed frames, the XD’s 151.6-inch wheelbase is 20 inches longer than the standard Titan. The truck is powered by a 5-liter Cummins V8 capable of 310 horsepower and 555 lb-ft of torque, and is mated to a six-speed Aisin automatic. The diesel option also helps the XD slot in between half-ton and three-quarter ton trucks, a category it will have all to itself for now. Gasoline-fueled V6 and V8 engines are on the cards for a later date.

Towing capacity is an SAE J2807-certified 12,000 lbs when properly equipped, while the max payload is 2,000 lbs. Towing is handled with an integrated brake controller, trailer sway and downhill speed controls, and a lighting system check. The XD can also be had with an electronic locking rear differential.

The Titan will come in three cab configurations, five trim levels, and the aforementioned two frames and three powertrain options. Other features include: 12-volt and 120-volt power outlets; blind-spot warning; front and rear sonar; fold-out rear floor; lockable storage under the rear seat; and a 7-inch touchscreen with NissanConnect. No price has been announced thus far.

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Benson: Ram ProMaster City Portfolio Could Expand Via Demand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/benson-ram-promaster-city-portfolio-expand-via-demand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/benson-ram-promaster-city-portfolio-expand-via-demand/#comments Tue, 30 Dec 2014 14:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=969937 Right now, one can pick up a new Ram ProMaster City for catering tacos and installing cable down Flower Shop Lane. If that’s not enough, however, Ram might soon have a few more tricks up its sleeve. According to Edmunds, Ram commercial truck operations chief Joe Benson says consumer demand could increase the current ProMaster […]

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2015 Ram ProMaster City 01

Right now, one can pick up a new Ram ProMaster City for catering tacos and installing cable down Flower Shop Lane. If that’s not enough, however, Ram might soon have a few more tricks up its sleeve.

According to Edmunds, Ram commercial truck operations chief Joe Benson says consumer demand could increase the current ProMaster City portfolio beyond the two-passenger commercial panel van and five-passenger people carrier. Possibilities include diesel power, shorter wheelbases, seven-passenger models, a taller panel van, and a pickup variant with drop-down sides for easy cargo-box access.

Regarding the overall picture for Flower Shop Lane, Benson believes combined U.S. sales could climb to 100,000 by 2016, compared to the predicted 50,000 units sold in 2014. The increased demand is likely to come from Chevrolet Astro and GMC Safari owners looking to replace their aging units with those from not only Ram, but Ford, Chevrolet and Nissan.

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Seven Finalists Announced For Europe’s 2015 Car of the Year http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/seven-finalists-announced-europes-2015-car-year/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/seven-finalists-announced-europes-2015-car-year/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961993 After months of deliberation, Europe’s Car of the Year panel has narrowed down the field of 31 to seven finalists. Autoblog reports the panel has chosen the following nominees for the 2015 Car of the Year: BMW 2 Series Active Tourer Citroën C4 Cactus Ford Mondeo Mercedes-Benz C-Class Nissan Qashqai Renault Twingo Volkswagen Passat The […]

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After months of deliberation, Europe’s Car of the Year panel has narrowed down the field of 31 to seven finalists.

Autoblog reports the panel has chosen the following nominees for the 2015 Car of the Year:

  • BMW 2 Series Active Tourer
  • Citroën C4 Cactus
  • Ford Mondeo
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class
  • Nissan Qashqai
  • Renault Twingo
  • Volkswagen Passat

The winner will be announced during the 2015 Geneva Auto Show this coming March. Previous winners include the Peugeot 308, Volkswagen Golf and Opel Ampera, with the first title awarded 50 years ago to the 1964 Rover 2000.

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Supercars To Go: The Non-Contenders http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/supercars-go-non-contenders/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/supercars-go-non-contenders/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 13:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961009 When it comes to rental supercar tests, the people have spoken! And you’re going to get five of the original eight cars ranked between today and Saturday. But when you choose five from eight, you still have three that didn’t make the cut. I’ll explain why below. Non-Contender Number Zero: Ferrari F430 F1. Periodically, I […]

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When it comes to rental supercar tests, the people have spoken! And you’re going to get five of the original eight cars ranked between today and Saturday. But when you choose five from eight, you still have three that didn’t make the cut. I’ll explain why below.

Non-Contender Number Zero: Ferrari F430 F1. Periodically, I think to myself: “Self, you should buy a Ferrari 430. They’re under a hundred grand now and they are pretty reliable as far as Ferraris go and they are pretty cheap to maintain as far as Ferraris go and wouldn’t you like to have a Ferrari before you die?” After spending a weekend driving one and coaching in one, I can answer that with a solid “Nope.” To begin with, it’s neither vintage-charming like an F355 or fantastically competent like a 458 Italia. It has a performance envelope that sits comfortably inside that of something like a C6 Z06 or a 2005 Viper.

It’s not handsome; the proportions just don’t work on this or the 360 Modena. The F1 shift genuinely sucks. I’d rather spend my Ferrari money on a 575M, which is no faster but is a grand-touring twelve-cylinder in the classic style. Or you could buy a 328GTB and an early C6 Z06 for the same money, netting you a better-looking Ferrari and a faster track car. In isolation, it’s pretty charming, but the 458 makes it look like a used Mercury Monarch. More annoyingly for the tifosi, the Gallardo does as well.

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Non-Contender Number One: Mercedes-AMG SLS Roadster. As a Black Series gullwing, the Mercedes-AMG is the stuff of legends and it wowed the crowd at PCOTY 2013. When I took one to Toronto Motorsports Park, home of our sister publication AutoGuide’s track tests, I immediately set what would have been their all-time best lap — while I was warming up. Capable isn’t the word. It’s one of the all-time greats.

As a convertible, without the wings and things? Well, it’s still very fast. The final form of the hand-assembled “6.3” V-8 is splendid from tickover to torque peak to rev limit, carrying the eternal mail like it’s been harpooned by Queequeg before sounding for a final time. The double-clutch transmission is a nearly perfect ally and responds as if it only had a GTI’s worth of power to transmit instead of thrice that. The brakes work. After a while, you get used to the nose hanging out there, just like you do with a Viper.

Yet this isn’t truly a supercar; it’s a grand tourer that happens to haul ass. You need the laser-sharp focus of the Black Series to make it competitive with the mid-engine Italians or the Z06 Corvette. As a way to get around Beverly Hills, it’s the alpha dog, but around a racetrack it’s too big, too soft, and too relaxed. Also, and I feel I should mention this, it’s an absolute nightmare in the wet. As in, it’s the only car I thought I might scratch up during the recon laps every morning, because it oscillated heavily under power in the rain. So beware, Real Housewives and all who adore them.

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Non-Contender Number Two: 2009 Nissan GT-R Premium You’ll notice that I’ve included the year and the model of the GT-R here. There’s a reason for that. When I drove the Nismo GT-R for PCOTY 2014, I was utterly convinced by the reborn Nissan’s poise, power, and back-road fling-ability. Though it costs a pretty penny, the Nismo is worth all the money, in large part because all the pieces have finally come together. The engine is making the right amount of power and delivering it in the right fashion, the transmission and diffs have been to Senna school, and the bonded-and-seam-welded chassis feels all of a piece. Go buy one with my blessing, even if I would personally rather have a Viper TA for less money.

That Nismo GT-R represents five years of continuous effort and improvement over the original R35 GT-R, and the difference is easy to feel when you drive the old one. There’s far less subtlety and speed in the way the power gets transferred to the different corners of the car. Furthermore, while I in no way want to contribute (further!) to the computer/video-game stereotype about this car, it does feel distant and physically large most of the time. This is exaggerated, of course, when you’re coming to it from a McLaren MP4-12C instead of from, say, a Mustang or Infiniti G37 coupe. It never really shrinks around you the way a Viper does; you are always aware that you are piloting a very tall, very large, very heavy automobile.

With that said, it’s easily fast enough to get you into trouble that the computers can’t solve, so don’t believe all the hype about it being idiot-proof. With that said, we’ll leave the GT-R behind for now, because while the current version is ready for the world, this one is now about as impressive as a first-generation iPad.

That leaves us with five:

* Ferrari 458 Italia
* Lamborghini Gallardo 560-4
* Lamborghini Gallardo 550-2
* McLaren MP4-12C
* Audi R8 4.2 R-tronic.

I’ll mail a TTAC Racing shirt to the first poster who correctly guesses the finishing order. See you tomorrow!

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Zetsche: There’s No Money In The EV Stand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/zetsche-theres-money-ev-stand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/zetsche-theres-money-ev-stand/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 11:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=941673 Though Daimler made $780 million off of its recent Tesla stake sale, CEO Dieter Zetsche says there’s no money in the EV stand. AutoblogGreen reports Daimler is leasing its Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive for €399 ($498 USD) a month for 36 months with a down payment of €8,473 ($10,582) due at signing in European showrooms. […]

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Though Daimler made $780 million off of its recent Tesla stake sale, CEO Dieter Zetsche says there’s no money in the EV stand.

AutoblogGreen reports Daimler is leasing its Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive for €399 ($498 USD) a month for 36 months with a down payment of €8,473 ($10,582) due at signing in European showrooms. Were Zetsche to have his way, however, those payments would be higher:

You can reasonably say that nobody today is making a battery-powered vehicle that’s economically viable in its own right. Manufacturers will not see a return within a reasonable time on the billions they’re investing now.

Zetsche’s remarks echo those of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne, who would rather spend $10,000 on a more profitable product than lose said amount every time a Fiat 500e is sold. On the other hand, Nissan and Tesla — the latter having worked with Daimler on the B-Class Electric Drive — have found their respective gambles paying off thus far, though neither are planning to show their hands just yet.

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Next-Gen Nissan Titan Equipped With New Turbodiesel Tech http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/next-gen-nissan-titan-equipped-new-turbodiesel-tech/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/next-gen-nissan-titan-equipped-new-turbodiesel-tech/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 12:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=938169 When the next-gen Nissan Titan rolls up to the stage at next year’s Detroit Auto Show, the full-size truck will have a big oil-burner with enough sequential firepower to put all on Truck Mountain on notice. Car & Driver reports the 5-liter Cummins turbodiesel V8 — expected to pump out 300 horsepower and 500 lb-ft. […]

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Nissan Titan Cummins Holset M2 Two-Stage System with Rotary Turbine Control

When the next-gen Nissan Titan rolls up to the stage at next year’s Detroit Auto Show, the full-size truck will have a big oil-burner with enough sequential firepower to put all on Truck Mountain on notice.

Car & Driver reports the 5-liter Cummins turbodiesel V8 — expected to pump out 300 horsepower and 500 lb-ft. of torque — will come equipped with a sequential turbocharging system called the Holset M2 Two-Stage System with Rotary Turbine Control; Holset was an engineering firm in England that was purchased by Cummins in the 1970s, then renamed Cummins Turbo Technologies in 2006.

The system uses an electronically controlled rotary valve to direct exhaust flow to either one of the two turbos feeding power to the engine, shifting focus from the smaller to the larger of the turbos as airflow increases with engine speed and load.

As well as regulating boost pressure, the Rotary Turbine Control can be used as an exhaust brake when the accelerator is lifted. In turn, the increased temperatures resulting from the act help burn off more soot in the engine’s particulate filter.

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Nissan, Honda Recall More Takata-Equipped Vehicles http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nissan-honda-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nissan-honda-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935674 The Takata airbag recall continues to grow, with Nissan adding 260,000 2008 through 2012 models worldwide to the list. Automotive News reports the recall total for Nissan linked to the airbags since 2013 totalled nearly 700,000 prior to the additional vehicles called back. The recall affects vehicles outside of the United States, including the Cube […]

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2014 Nissan Versa Note Exterior

The Takata airbag recall continues to grow, with Nissan adding 260,000 2008 through 2012 models worldwide to the list.

Automotive News reports the recall total for Nissan linked to the airbags since 2013 totalled nearly 700,000 prior to the additional vehicles called back. The recall affects vehicles outside of the United States, including the Cube and Micra/March, with the majority of the models located in the automaker’s home market of Japan.

Meanwhile, Honda is replacing the defective units in 3.5 million vehicles in 11 states in the U.S. where high humidity could lead to an airbag exploding with metal shrapnel taking dead aim at all inside. The company also recalled 425,825 units, adding onto the 6 million that have been recalled over the issue since 2008.

Finally, General Motors and Toyota are issuing warnings to their customers not have anyone sit in the front passenger seat until the airbag unit is replaced.

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NYC Taxi Association Take Taxi Of Tomorrow Fight To Albany http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nyc-taxi-association-take-taxi-tomorrow-fight-albany/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nyc-taxi-association-take-taxi-tomorrow-fight-albany/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935650 Clutching dearly onto their fleet of Panthers, New York’s taxi industry is heading up to Albany to contest the $1 billion plan to replace their vehicles with Nissan’s “Taxi of Tomorrow” NV200. Bloomberg reports the Greater New York Taxi Association will contest the appellate court ruling made this summer that declared the program — meant […]

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Nissan NV200 Taxi of Tomorrow

Clutching dearly onto their fleet of Panthers, New York’s taxi industry is heading up to Albany to contest the $1 billion plan to replace their vehicles with Nissan’s “Taxi of Tomorrow” NV200.

Bloomberg reports the Greater New York Taxi Association will contest the appellate court ruling made this summer that declared the program — meant to bring 15,000 of the new taxis to the streets of Manhattan over the next 10 years — was flawed from the start:

The Taxi of Tomorrow as planned forces owners to purchase a single foreign-made vehicle, which is neither fuel-efficient nor wheelchair accessible.

The lawsuit process began in 2012, after the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission chose the NV200 as its new champion, and mandated all medallion owners to buy the vans to replace their Ford Crown Victorias at $29,700 a pop. The plan was blocked twice prior to the June 2014 ruling in favor, once for the lack of hybrid models, and again for overreach by the commission.

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Nissan, Tesla Sold Most California ZEV Credits In 2013 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nissan-tesla-sold-california-zev-credits-2013/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nissan-tesla-sold-california-zev-credits-2013/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935346 In one corner of the California ZEV credit octagon, the Tesla and its air of luxury. On the other side, the Nissan and its down-to-earth vibe. Who won this year? Nissan. AutoblogGreen reports the Japanese automaker sold more ZEV credits than the Californians, though not by much: 663.6 to 650.195. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles pulled up […]

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In one corner of the California ZEV credit octagon, the Tesla and its air of luxury. On the other side, the Nissan and its down-to-earth vibe.

Who won this year? Nissan.

AutoblogGreen reports the Japanese automaker sold more ZEV credits than the Californians, though not by much: 663.6 to 650.195. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles pulled up at a distant third with 235.2 sold, thanks to the existence of the Fiat 500e.

As for who bought them — purchase price per credit is permanently shrouded in secrecy — Mercedes likely took Nissan’s credits for the former’s less green offerings, Honda following behind with 542.5 purchased. FCA, again, placed third with 237.8, cancelling out what the 500e gained.

Finally, California residents brought home 3.5 million vehicles during the period ending last month, with 38,000 EVs, 30,000 PHEVs and 570,000 hybrids roaming the streets and highways.

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NHTSA Issues Urgent Recall For Takata-Equipped Vehicles In Humid Climes http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nhtsa-issues-urgent-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles-humid-climes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nhtsa-issues-urgent-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles-humid-climes/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934178 If you happen to own certain BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan vehicles, and reside in a humid climate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging you to take it in for repairs linked to the Takata airbags installed. Though the agency didn’t explain exactly the need for urgency, the airbags made […]

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Takata Airbag Cutaway

If you happen to own certain BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan vehicles, and reside in a humid climate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging you to take it in for repairs linked to the Takata airbags installed.

Though the agency didn’t explain exactly the need for urgency, the airbags made by Takata have been linked to humidity-related failures, where upon detonation, metal shrapnel would be sprayed into the cabin, injuring or killing all within.

Owners of the following affected vehicles may need to bring their vehicles in for repairs if they call Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands or Hawaii home:

Toyota: 778,177 total number of vehicles potentially affected
2002 – 2004 Lexus SC
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2004 Toyota Sequoia
2003 – 2004 Toyota Tundra
2003 – 2004 Pontiac Vibe

Honda: 2,803,214 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord (4 cyl)
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord (6 cyl)
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 -2007 Honda Pilot
2006 Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 -2003 Acura TL/CL

Nissan: 437,712 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2003 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2003 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2003 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 Infiniti FX

Mazda: 18,050 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2004 Mazda6
2004 Mazda RX-8

BMW: 573,935 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible

General Motors: 133,221 total number potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2003 Buick LeSabre
2002 – 2003 Buick Rendezvous
2002 – 2003 Cadillac DeVille
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Impala
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Venture
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy XL
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Aurora
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Bonneville
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Montana

Recall letters are being sent out to affected owners, who can also look up their VIN through SaferCar.gov to determine if their vehicle is under recall.

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Paris 2014: Nissan Pulsar NISMO Debuts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-nissan-pulsar-nismo-debuts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-nissan-pulsar-nismo-debuts/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 21:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=925057 The Nissan Pulsar NISMO made its debut at the 2014 Paris Auto Show Thursday, but it’ll never turn up in North American showrooms. The mad scientists of Nissan’s performance division gave the Pulsar a full makeover with double-layered side skirts, redesigned front bumper with larger air intakes, a rear diffuser, center exhaust et al, all […]

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The Nissan Pulsar NISMO made its debut at the 2014 Paris Auto Show Thursday, but it’ll never turn up in North American showrooms.

The mad scientists of Nissan’s performance division gave the Pulsar a full makeover with double-layered side skirts, redesigned front bumper with larger air intakes, a rear diffuser, center exhaust et al, all riding on 19-inch wheels with a lowered suspension aimed at the track.

Speaking of the track, though no word on what would power the hot hatch has been stated by either party, a likely candidate would be a 1.6-liter turbo-four delivering 200 horsepower. There’s also no word on whether the concept will go into production.

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First 4,000 2015 Nissan Rogues Leave South Korea For NAFTA Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/first-4000-2015-nissan-rogues-leave-south-korea-nafta-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/first-4000-2015-nissan-rogues-leave-south-korea-nafta-market/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 13:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=921241 Right now, 4,000 2015 Nissan Rogues are on their way from South Korea to North America, supplementing production of the crossover in Smyrna, Tenn. as part of an agreement signed between Renault Group, Nissan and Renault Samsung Motors in 2012. Just-Auto reports the Rogues were assembled in RSM’s Busan, South Korea facility, where 80,000 units […]

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Right now, 4,000 2015 Nissan Rogues are on their way from South Korea to North America, supplementing production of the crossover in Smyrna, Tenn. as part of an agreement signed between Renault Group, Nissan and Renault Samsung Motors in 2012.

Just-Auto reports the Rogues were assembled in RSM’s Busan, South Korea facility, where 80,000 units per year will head for the container port to the NAFTA market over the next five years. The figure will contribute to a total of 500,000+ units annually, spread out over nine plants around the world.

The export plan isn’t only a win for RSM –securing a stable production volume of 30 percent of what can be built in Busan — but for consumers on the West Coast who would like to have a Rogue in their parking space, but must wait due to a volume shortage.

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Lotus Ceases Sales Of Road Cars In America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/lotus-ceases-sales-road-cars-america/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/lotus-ceases-sales-road-cars-america/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 13:54:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=916314 As of 2015, Lotus will no longer sell road cars in the United States, as sales of the Evora sports car come to an end. Car and Driver reports that a waiver granted to the Evora for its lack of smart airbags has come to an end, and Lotus won’t be making any modifications to […]

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As of 2015, Lotus will no longer sell road cars in the United States, as sales of the Evora sports car come to an end.

Car and Driver reports that a waiver granted to the Evora for its lack of smart airbags has come to an end, and Lotus won’t be making any modifications to help it comply with U.S regulations. That will leave Lotus with only a lineup of track-only variants of the Elise and Exige.

Lotus is also in the midst of mass layoffs at its UK headquarters, and both signs bode ill for the boutique sports car maker. Selling off the remainder of US-spec Evora inventory will take some time, but its unlikely that selling non-street legal cars will be enough to keep the American arm of Lotus afloat in the forseeable future.

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Dongfeng Nissan Launches Leaf-Based Venucia e30 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/dongfeng-nissan-launches-leaf-based-venucia-e30/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/dongfeng-nissan-launches-leaf-based-venucia-e30/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 10:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=912650 After 3.1 million miles of pilot testing, Dongfeng Nissan last week launched its version of the Leaf for the Chinese EV market, the Venucia e30. Prior to the official launch, around 300 of the ¥267,800 ($43,460 USD) e30s went through a quality and safety pilot program in Guangzhou, Xiangyang and Dalian, logging 3.1 million “failure-free” […]

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After 3.1 million miles of pilot testing, Dongfeng Nissan last week launched its version of the Leaf for the Chinese EV market, the Venucia e30.

Prior to the official launch, around 300 of the ¥267,800 ($43,460 USD) e30s went through a quality and safety pilot program in Guangzhou, Xiangyang and Dalian, logging 3.1 million “failure-free” miles in so doing. Six more cities — Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Tianjin and Hangzhou — join the original three locations as part of the initial launch before sales go nationwide next year.

As for what consumers will get out of the reworked original EV for the masses, the e30 is expected to deliver up to 35 miles in range after using the quick-charge option, with normal charging also available. In addition, the EV comes with government subsidies, as well as lower running costs of 85 percent compared to similar gasoline models.

Though it remains to be seen how well the e30 hits it off with the Chinese public, the Leaf is doing well for itself as of late, with Nissan selling 3,186 units in the United States last month, and year-to-year U.S. sales jumping 34 percent to 18,841 units.

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