Posts Tagged ‘china’

Production Nissan Lannia Coming to Auto Shanghai

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, April 18th, 2015

Nissan Lannie teaser

While the 2015 New York Auto Show technically concluded the spring auto season, our friends in China are just warming up. Barely a week after the NY Auto Show’s opening, automakers are already starting to tease new cars and concepts for the upcoming 2015 Shanghai Auto Show. Our first teaser for the event is one from Nissan for their production-spec Nissan Lannia. Nissan has kindly provided both an image preview (above) and a video teaser (below) to get us hyped:

The Nissan Lannia was originally shown all the way back at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show as the Nissan Friend-ME Concept – a social-centric car that integrated social media and entertainment technology into the cabin for all four occupants. Then, at last year’s Beijing Auto Show (the shows in Shanghai and Beijing alternate years), Nissan showed us a full-fledged Lannia Concept.

Now, after two years of “what if”, it looks like Nissan’s newest youth-targeted car is ready to break onto dealership floors in China. After the car’s official debut later this month, it’s expected to go on sale as a 2016 model in the second half of this year.

What’s special about the Lannia is that this will be the first car Nissan has built and developed exclusively for the Chinese market. More specifically, they’re targeting the younger generation of drivers between ages 20 and 33 or so.

That means the Lannia won’t be available anywhere outside of China when it launches later this year, but former Nissan CPO Andy Palmer had hinted that it may eventually make its way into international markets. Either way, we expect the new Nissan Lannia to look a lot like the 2016 Nissan Maxima that made its own official debut just last week in New York, albeit with a more muscular front clip and a more youth-targeted interior. However, the V-motion front grille and boomerang headlights look like they’ll remain the same.

While the Shanghai Auto Show is an event targeted exclusively at the Chinese market, keep in mind that the Lannia’s target market – Chinese drivers aged 20 to 30 – is currently about 240 million strong. The entire US only holds about 320 million people, so this is certainly a market worth investing in for the world’s second largest Japanese automaker.

Japanese Car Auction Find – 2014 Volkswagen Passat

2014 Volkswagen Passat

There’s no doubt that Volkswagen is the automaker with the strongest hold on the Chinese market. In January of this year, the top five best-sellers in the China were all Volkswagen models. If Nissan wants to build a significant presence in China, they’ll have to go through Volkswagen first.

2014 Volkswagen Passat rear

The Volkswagen Passat has always been an extremely strong-seller in China, and it’s easy to see why. It’s the flawless combination of aggressive sports appeal and refined finesse –perfect for the ambitious Chinese business class.

2014 Volkswagen Passat interior

To learn more about this Japanese car auction find, get a full translation of the auction sheet below:

2014 Volkswagen Passat auction sheet

“Interior A, exterior condition A, first registered March 2014, TSI Comfortline Bluemotion, DBA emissions code, FAT, HI headlights, original alloy wheels, official dealer RHD import, AAC, model year unknown, wheels scratched, interior grime and scratches, minor scratches, marks as per map”

New 2015 Infiniti ESQ Unleased in the Chinese Market

Posted by Stephen On Friday, September 5th, 2014

The world’s second-largest Japanese automaker, Nissan, continues to expand their global presence with surprising frequency. Last week they introduced the Datsun mi-DO, a new budget friendly hatchback for the Russian market, and this week they’ve unveiled the Infiniti ESQ exclusively for the Chinese market.

The reveal comes at the 2014 Chengdu Auto Show, where the trend of the year is scantily clad women and luxury cars. The Infiniti ESQ wasn’t the only new premium vehicle on display, but it’s definitely one of the most eye-catching. See for yourself below:

Infiniti ESQ Crossover

Look familiar?

That’s probably because the Infiniti ESQ is essentially a pre-facelift Nissan Juke NISMO in disguise. The quirky Juke crossover has never been available for sale in China, so Infiniti decided to introduce the car in upgraded luxury form. According to their release, Infiniti is hoping to take the fun-factor of the Nissan Juke and bring it to China’s “new millennials”, which is a very important customer group to the brand’s expansion.

At this point, you’re probably wondering what separates the Nissan Juke NISMO from the new Infiniti ESQ premium crossover. But, let’s start with what’s stayed the same – the powertrain.

2015 Infiniti ESQ Crossover

The ESQ runs on the Juke NISMO’s exhilarating 197hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired with a performance-tuned CVT and optional all-wheel drive. With that, the ESQ boasts a 0-60 speed of 7.8 seconds and a top speed of 134mph. Meanwhile, the turbocharger helps the lux crossover maintain a cool 40mpg and keeps CO2 emissions around 159g/km… Not exactly Prius-level, but not too shabby either.

Infiniti ESQ Powertrain

As you may be able to detect in the above images, the Infiniti ESQ uses a fairly extensive body kit to achieve a more interesting, premium look, distinct from Nissan’s Juke NISMO. The ESQ gets an even sportier look than the Juke with a rear diffuser, a sport exhaust pipe, totally redesigned head- and taillights, plenty of chrome trim and a restyled mesh grille. Plus, Infiniti’s done a number of aerodynamic tweaks to boost fuel economy, and the ESQ rides on new 18-inch allows with plenty of ESQ badging all around the body.

Infiniti ESQ Interior

Inside, the changes are a little less dominant. The Infiniti ESQ loses the Juke NISMO’s Alcantara steering wheel and high-contrast color-scheme in favor of upscale leather seats with classy white stitching. The crossover retains all of the Juke’s tech. appointments, including the infotainment system, climate control and three variable driving modes.

The Infiniti ESQ will go on sale in China at the beginning of next month for between 200,000 and 300,000 Yuan, which for reference is about $32,000 to $49,000. However, word has it that the ESQ is only the first of many new offerings that Infiniti is readying for the Chinese market, including the Q50L and a possible new QX70, just to name a couple.

New Infiniti Q50L Sedan Coming to China this Fall

Posted by Stephen On Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Infiniti is definitely living up to their name this week with a seemingly endless amount of new Japanese cars to talk about. Today they released the first image of a new version of their Q50 saloon. It’s called the Infiniti Q50L, and it will be exclusive to the Chinese market when it makes its official debut at the 2014 Chengdu Motor Show later this month. Check it out:

Infiniti Q50L sedan

As you can see, this is a long-wheelbase version of the recently refreshed Infiniti Q50 sedan. If you’re looking for specific measurements, Infiniti added about 2 inches (48mm) to the normal Q50’s wheelbase and nearly 3 inches (60mm) to the sedan’s body, which puts the Q50L at a total length of 191 inches (4852mm). Almost all of that extra length went straight to the back seat, which is intended to make the new model more appealing to luxury chauffeurs – another big trend in China.

What’s especially exciting about this new Q50L sedan for is that it will be Infiniti’s first domestically manufactured model in China, although probably not the last. After all, this is just one more step towards their promise of a more comprehensive global presence. The new sedan will be manufactured at Infiniti’s new Xiangyang factory in the Hubei province.

Since Infiniti won’t be selling the Q50L outside China anytime soon, the new saloon has been tailored from the ground up for its target market. That means it’ll only be available with one engine option, supplied by Mercedes-Benz. It’s a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder petrol that outputs 211hp and fits within China’s strict emissions regulations. The powertrain will be paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission and the same Direct Adaptive Steering seen in the normal Infiniti Q50.

The new Infiniti Q50L will be more than just clean and comfy, though… It’ll also feature a boatload of cutting-edge tech features. Infiniti’s touch-screen inTouch infotainment and their active safety suite (including Active Lane Control) will be stock on all trims, as well as a 14-speaker Bose surround sound system and electronic anti-glare mirrors. And that’s just the beginning. There’ll be five total trims, listed in order of price: Comfort, Elegant, Sports, Luxury & Luxury Sports.

We’re sure to learn more about the new Infiniti Q50L later this month when the lengthy sedan makes its debut at the Chengdu Motor Show. Until then, we’ll all just have to make do with the image at the top of this post. Stay tuned for more details – and pictures – in a couple weeks.

New Infiniti ESQ Luxury Crossover to Launch in China

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Today Infiniti released their first teaser images of a brand-new luxury crossover they’re planning to launch exclusively in the Chinese market. It’s called the Infiniti ESQ, and CEO Johan De Nysschen described it to our friends at Jalopnik as an “irreverent lifestyle car for the hedonistic rebel.”

Are you getting excited yet? You should be; it’s not very often that we get a brand-new Infiniti to talk about completely out of the blue.

Infiniti ESQ Grille

Unfortunately, this new Infiniti ESQ luxury crossover isn’t actually a new vehicle… At least, not by the strictest definition of the word. Instead, it’s essentially a rebadged, premium-spec Nissan Juke NISMO.

If you’re anything like me, the thought of a rebadged Infiniti isn’t very appealing. After all, it seems like a rip off at first glance, and we’re not the only ones who feel that way. So, why is Infiniti risking their brand’s image with this endeavor?

Glad you asked. There are three reasons, actually.

First, De Nysschen importantly notes that China is home to the largest youth premium market in the world, and it’s getting bigger every year. There’s a big reward for building a brand presence there.

Second, the Nissan juke isn’t available in China anyways, so it’s not like they’re double-dipping.

Finally, Infiniti has already been considering a new “youth-oriented premium compact” for larger international markets. The new Infiniti ESQ is essentially an experiment to test the market’s response to this kind of car before they “sink a fortune into an untried concept.”

Infiniti ESQ Wheels

Looking through the images that Infiniti has provided for us, there are a few key features that distinguish the Infiniti ESQ from the ‘normal’ Nissan Juke NISMO. The Juke’s V-motion grille has been replaced in favor of a wavy mesh grille that’s much more becoming of an Infiniti. As you might expect, snazzy ESQ and Infiniti badging can be found throughout the design, and the Juke’s 18-inch 10-spoke NISMO wheels have been chrome-finished.

We don’t actually have any images of the new Infiniti ESQ’s interior other than the below image of the crossover’s dash. From the looks of it, it’s identical to the Juke NISMO’s dash save for the Infiniti logo on the steering wheel. Still, we assume that the interior’s materials/colors/tech. have all received minor upgrades to help the ESQ feel like a more refined version of its purely performance-oriented counterpart.

Infiniti ESQ Dash

Whatever your feelings are about cross-brand badging, hopefully you can appreciate the new Infiniti ESQ for what it is – an experiment that could lead to something bigger down the road. Either way, we’re willing to bet that there are plenty of young, hedonistic Chinese drivers who are ready and willing to fork over plenty of Yen for one of these new luxury crossovers.

Nissan is First Japanese Maker with China Design Center

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Nissan has become the first Japanese car maker to set up a design center in China. “Nissan Design China” joins other overseas design centers in the UK and US as well as two based in Japan, and required an initial investment of 150 million Yen (about 1.94 million USD at current rates.) This follows Daimler’s July announcement of a China-based design center.

The center was opened in March this year, but Nissan put off its public unveiling due to the earthquake that hit Japan at that time.

20 designers with an average age in their late twenties currently work in this Beijing facility, and Nissan must be hoping that their work will support Nissan’s aim of raising their market share from 6% to 10% in China. To that end they expect a new car design from this design center to be sold in China in two to three years time.

Nissan Design China - Beijing design center

Nissan’s design process involves their design centers competing to produce exterior and interior styling that is then used in a globally standardized model. The addition of Chinese designers to the mix will allow Nissan both heighten internal competition as well as allowing the tastes of one of the biggest world markets to be integrated into the product development process.

Senior Vice President Taiji Toyota is bullish in his outlook for this new venture: “We want to be winning internal design competitions by one year from now, and in two to three years from now we want to be introducing high-selling models to the global market centered on China.”

I cannot help but wonder whether it is the international outlook of Nissan’s CEO, Carlos Ghosn, that is allowing Nissan to embrace international developments more quickly than other Japanese manufacturers. Not only are they the first to set up a China-based design center but they are also moving most rapidly to move production out of Japan to places like Thailand.

Sources: Nikkei, Mainichi Shinbun, Jijicom (all Japanese-language)

Honda to Launch 3 New Hybrid Models & 1 EV in China in 2012

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Toshihiro Mibe of Honda announced on October 12th that it would be introducing 3 new hybrid models into the Chinese market in 2012. At first, these hybrid cars will be manufactured and imported from Honda Japan, but Honda is indicating that in the future, it would like to produce these models locally in China itself. Local production of hybrid Honda models could happen as early as 2012. Honda is increasingly focusing on the Chinese market, as it is also planning on introducing a locally-produced EV there at the end of 2012.

The three hybrid models destined for China will be based on the Insight, the Fit Hybrid and the sporty CR-Z. Reports indicate that the EV model will be based on the Honda Fit EV. This model will be produced and marketed by a joint venture company in Guangzhou, Canton province in Southern China and will be tested in local conditions starting at the end of this year. A Beijing-based Honda PR source indicated that this EV model will be eligible for grants from the Chinese government.

Honda also says that by producing the EV model in China may well lead to the rare earth metals used in the magnets in the electric motors also being sourced locally in China. Not really surprising as China is a major supplier of these materials on the world market.

Sources: Bloomberg, Nikkei, Reuters (all Japanese language)

Earthquake In Japan Pushes Car Prices Up

Posted by Stephen On Friday, April 8th, 2011

I guess this makes some sense, in that reduced volume means that you have to charge higher prices to keep your profit margins going and dampen down demand that you know you cannot meet. But it still seems a little short-sighted to raise prices just when confidence in car makers from Japan has taken a knock.

Apparently dealers selling Japanese cars in China have already raised prices by about 26,000 to 65,000 Yen as supply can no longer meet demand. These price increases are relatively small compared with the extra $2000 0to $3000 USD customers are having to fork out for the Prius in the US. Although Toyota was going to raise prices a little from may as a result of increases in raw material costs and the stronger Yen, these kinds of huge premiums give the impression of price gouging – not something you want to do when consumers are warming to your product due to higher petrol prices.

Sources: Detroit Free Press, Searchina (Japanese-language)