By on October 5, 2012

It is something that will become increasingly common: Japanese carmakers launch cars at home in Japan, long after they have been introduced to emerging and emerged market elsewhere. This seems to hurt Japanese feelings. Today, Nissan presented the Latio at its headquarters in Yokohama, and the usually polite assemblage of media representatives turned into a growling pack.

It probably did not help that Nissan had announced that the car “is already on sale in global markets including China, the United States and Thailand.” Nissan’s “global strategic model” successfully caters to the low price markets all over the world under various names (Tiida, Versa, Sunny, Almera, Pulsar, Scala, and possibly more,) but Japan had to wait. The patriotic sensitivities of the members of the Japanese press also seemingly were rubbed the wrong way by the fact that the car is made in Thailand, and imported to Japan.

A bow to Japanese intricacies in the shape of a rotating front seat did not mollify the media. “Those who wear skirts or a kimono can get out of the car elegantly,” we were told, but this did not keep an audibly upset reporter from delivering a long rant:

“As I expected, there is no headrest in the middle of the rear seat. How come Nissan can produce such a vehicle in these modern times? Rather than making the car cheaper, it is better to add the safety features. You always say fleet users are looking for something inexpensive, but that’s a mistake! They buy the cheap cars because the carmakers make them, if the cars would not be made, they would not be bought! The employees that drive these cars will think management does not value them, they will be demotivated, and as a result, this will damage the performance of the company, and competent people will leave the company. Nissan is producing such a vehicle, and I don’t like it.”

A visibly perturbed Executive Vice President Takao Katagiri said something about diverse needs of diverse target groups, and the precedence of better rear visibility over center headrests, but the media representatives kept piling on and complained about everything from the lack of tire pressure detection systems to the fact that rarely taken option combinations will take a long time until the boat from Thailand comes in.

The value proposition of a compact sedan seemed to be lost on Japan’s Fourth Estate. Even the Japanese price is not as great as elsewhere. In the U.S., the Versa is proud to have the lowest starting price of any new car in the U.S. ($10,990). In Japan, the most basic B trim costs 1,388,100 yen, or $17,638 in undervalued dollars.

Did they complain about that? No. They complained about deflationary pricing, and lambasted Nissan for demotivating the average salary man, and thereby hurting Japan’s competitiveness. No wonder Japanese carmakers leave the country.

Successfully. Nissan already sold more than 500,000 of the car elsewhere.

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18 Comments on “Belatedly, Nissan Shows Latio (a.k.a. Tiida, Versa, Sunny, Almera, Pulsar, Scala) To Upset Japanese Press...”

  • avatar

    They’re upset they didn’t get first dibs on THAT?

    • 0 avatar

      If the Japanese don’t buy any, Nissan won’t do it anymore. But I am sure it will be a success and the reporters will have to get over their self image.

    • 0 avatar

      Is there a market for cars like this in Japan? I thought that if you wanted a cheap car in Japan you had to get a Kei car, otherwise you would be nailed on taxes, negating any savings on the car itself.

  • avatar
    Polar Bear

    Heckling and ranting at a press conference? Is Japan falling apart?

    How typical that when the Japanese finally speak up they do it wrong. I don’t want this journalist to tell me his opinions. I want him to report the news. Amateur ranting I can do myself, here on the web. I can also listen to experts in civil society and what they have to say – if that journalist can be quiet long enough.

    Here is a bonus rant: What is wrong with calling the car Sunny worldwide? Why all these names? Now in the age of globalisation people are on the net reading about cars from any news source in any country. It would be nice if
    we could avoid the confusion of half a dozen different names. And are not all these names bad for brand building anyway?

    But then again Nissan is the company that likes to destroy brand value by not only frequent model name changes but also by changing the name of itself.

    • 0 avatar

      Especially a rant about a center headrest.

    • 0 avatar

      I read here recently that the new top guy at Infiniti wants to more than doublke the worldwide volume of Infinitis sold. My reaction was that the task will be easy just by swapping the badges on the cars. In much of the world, Infiniti models are just sold as Nissans. Certainly all Infinitis in Japan are sold that way. In Australia, the Infiniti ‘G’ is sold as the Nissan Skyline, a model name which carries a great racing history here.
      All the faux luxury brands (Lexus, Infiniti, Acura) started in the U.S. because image is so important there.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s Carlos Ghosn (head of Nissan-Renault) who is asking for an increase in Infiniti sales from 140K to 500K. Nysschen is much more cautious and less keen to push for volume.

  • avatar

    “They buy the cheap cars because the carmakers make them, if the cars would not be made, they would not be bought!”


    Wanna bet that the idiot/clown that said this has something like this for a company car. It’s not fair!!!!! I deserve better !!!!!

    As far as the bozo not liking it. Tough.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s a better bet that he doesn’t own a car nor have stats on how frequently the center seat is occupied by someone over 5′.

      The tone is exactly in line with many Japanese arguments. I can just imagine the visuals where this journalist is just interested in getting his statement out there as proof of some grander belief (in this case that Nissan should be more Japan-centric probably) and is completely unwilling to listen to anything that the speaker has to say. It’s very infuriating as a westerner when this crap is done as you expect to be able to debate but there is zero interest in discussion form the other side. It’s always intrigued me that a society that is very respect-based in many things has this trait that is so disrespectful.

  • avatar

    Are there plans to sell a “Fel” package with the Latio?

  • avatar

    Its interesting.

    This car is cheaper in the US than in Thailand where its built. In Thailand this car starts at ฿429,000 Thai baht, which is around $14k. It starts at $17.6k in Japan and just about $11k in the US.

    It illustrates how strong the yen is right now and how weak the dollar is.

  • avatar

    Might as well be the cheapest car in America. it sure looks like it.

  • avatar

    My cube shares the underpinnings with this model I am told. I think it’s a pretty solid car and am amazed it’s the cheapest.

    Some folks would just complain if you hung them with a new rope. Too bad.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    I like that rotating seat. Customer stays inside the car, and service provider remains outside.

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