Nissan's Z May Not Be Dead Yet
Nissan’s 370Z is just shy of its tenth birthday and has really begun to show its age. While it remains a relative bargain if you’re seeking an imported rear-drive sports car, it loses that advantage if you’re willing to consider its domestic rivals. It’s a solid performance package by most metrics. But it’s capable in the same way a retired olympic athlete might be. It’ll still destroy your chubby neighbor in a foot race but not his teenage son, who just happens to be captain of his high school track team.
The company needs a replacement. However, back in October, Nissan’s chief planning officer Philippe Klein was extremely noncommittal when it came to naming the 370Z’s successor. “It’s an interesting question because there is a lot of passion people [have for] this vehicle,” Klein said at the Tokyo Motor Show. “This vehicle is still very alive but at the same time it is in a segment that is gradually declining, so that is making the [business] case more difficult.”
So that’s it. The Z is dead. Case closed… or is it? Apparently, Nissan hasn’t given up on the Z after all.
While the ultra-expensive sports car market seems to be where the real money is, Klein said it hasn’t abandoned the idea of building another Z-badged automobile entirely. “We’re working on it and it’s very present, but I have no indication to give you,” Klein told Automotive News this month at this month’s Detroit auto show.
“The Z is a difficult market,” he continued. “It is rather shrinking worldwide. But we still believe there is a place for the Z and we want to keep it alive, and that’s what we’re working on”
“That’s for the midterm,” he said. “For the long term, there are other considerations. If we do a complete new vehicle, what should it be to keep the passion alive? And we’re working very seriously on this — how we can keep the Z alive and refreshing and what would be the next generation?”
I’m sure our resident Z fanatic, Chris Tonn, has a few ideas. However, Nissan claims that the popularity of crossovers has shifted consumer interest away from things like “speed, acceleration and cornering.” While that probably doesn’t assure subsequent Z-cars will be high-riding hatchbacks, it also doesn’t mean that’s not a terrifyingly real possibility.
Klein has previously discussed how the GT-R still had “potential” and the Nismo could be “another way to offer excitement to our customers leveraging the more conventional side.” That doesn’t make a lot of sense to us. The GT-R is in an entirely different league and slapping a Nismo badge on normal cars isn’t the same as providing a purpose-built sports car.
Perhaps the next Z would tap into the nostalgia of Generation Xers the same way domestic muscle did for Boomers a decade earlier. Nissan could create a lightweight grand tourer inspired by the 300ZX, keep it practical enough not to be a deal breaker for cash-conscious enthusiasts, and ensure it’s at least competitive from a performance standpoint. It won’t outsell the Nissan Rogue but, surely, there has to be enough wistful adults in Japan and North America to make it worth the automaker’s time.
It’s not too late to pitch ideas like this at Nissan either. Based on Klein’s statements, whatever Nissan is working on is probably still in the very earliest stages of development. It hasn’t figured out how to approach this Z-related problem and may be looking to the enthusiast community to help it make the right decisions.
“The passion is there,” Klein said. “The question is how can we refresh it and what will be the breakthrough for the long term?”
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- Max So GM will be making TESLAS in the future. YEA They really shouldn’t be taking cues from Elon musk. Tesla is just about to be over.
- Malcolm It's not that commenters attack Tesla, musk has brought it on the company. The delivery of the first semi was half loaded in 70 degree weather hauling potato chips for frito lay. No company underutilizes their loads like this. Musk shouted at the world "look at us". Freightliners e-cascads has been delivering loads for 6-8 months before Tesla delivered one semi. What commenters are asking "What's the actual usable range when in say Leadville when its blowing snow and -20F outside with a full trailer?
- Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
- William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.
- Tassos The Euro spec Taurus is the US spec Ford FUSION.Very few buyers care to see it here. FOrd has stopped making the Fusion long agoWake us when you have some interesting news to report.
You guys forgot the recent tie up with Mitsubishi. Rebadged Eclipse Cross (Z-Cross) for EVERYONE!
Forget the Z. Make the IDx as an EV on the new Nissan Leaf platform.