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NISSAN: THE CROSSOVER KINGS
--New low emission engine, advanced technology, booming sales and increased production underline Nissan's leadership of the Crossover market--
• 100,000 Jukes have already been sold in Europe, and a total of 180,000 globally
ROLLE (xx October, 2011) - When Nissan launched the Murano in America in 2002, it marked the start of a remarkable new era in motoring history: Murano was the first Crossover - part SUV and part saloon, a car that started a genre. In Murano's case, it targeted the luxury end of the market and quickly established itself as a car without direct rivals.
Although critically acclaimed at its launch in Europe in 2004, serious sales didn't start until a refined diesel version was added to the range in 2010. But its arrival had a deep significance for Nissan's European operations. Designers, engineers and market men realised that the Crossover concept could be applied equally well further down the market.
They first turned their attentions to the C-segment, traditionally one of the biggest yet most conservative markets in Europe, dominated by family hatchbacks, saloons and estates like the VW Golf, Opel Astra and Ford Focus.
Rather than produce yet another ‘me-too' product, Nissan decided to create something different, something that offered a genuine alternative in a sea of similar vehicles. The result was Qashqai and the effect was startling.
The car was an immediate sales hit in all markets right across Europe, instantly challenging the established front runners in the class. But importantly, this success has been sustained right through the model's history, with sales increasing year on year rather than - as is more normal - sales tailing off in year three or four.
As well as being for the most part designed and engineered in Europe, Qashqai was also built in Europe. Its sales success meant increased production at Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK's plant in Sunderland where three shifts are now operating around the clock to keep up with demand.
In less than five years, more than a million examples have been built in the UK, with the millionth example - a top-of-the-range 2.0-litre diesel Tekna version - rolling off the lines on 28 June, exactly four years, six months and 23 days after production started on 5 December 2006. No other UK car has reached the million mark in such a short space of time.
Qashqai's dominance of the sales charts first underlined Nissan's growing reputation for bold innovation and product leadership and second, it inspired the company to apply the same Crossover principles to the B-segment.
And, once again, Nissan hit the spot. Sales of Nissan Juke have taken off to the point where it is, like Qashqai before it, re-writing segment rules. Juke's combination of distinctive style, great driving dynamics, premium build quality and advanced technology have allowed it to mirror its bigger brother's success.
It, too, is built in Sunderland where production levels are only just behind Qashqai's. Booming demand for all versions, backed by exemplary build quality, has meant production of 4x4 versions of Juke for sale in Europe has now shifted to Sunderland from Japan.
Together Qashqai and Juke, ably backed by acclaimed city cars like Micra and Note, award-winning commercial vehicles such as NV200 and technically advanced machines like the zero-emission LEAF EV and dramatic GT-R, are spearheading Nissan's attack on the region with its clear aim to become the number one Japanese brand in Europe.
This will be achieved not only by producing innovative and popular cars like Europe's favourite Crossovers, but also by keeping ahead of the opposition. Continual development of existing products goes hand-in-hand with developing new ones, and has led to the arrival of a number of important changes to Qashqai, Juke and Murano.
New engines with lower emissions - as part of Nissan's PURE DRIVE programme - innovative new equipment, feature packed special versions, enhanced comfort and refinement and the exciting announcement of a one-off high-performing road legal version of Juke are just some of the changes that are being made to Nissan's range of market shifting Crossovers.
Nissan's top seller gains a new state-of-the-art 1.6 dCi engine - the most powerful 1.6 diesel engine in the world. This new engine is the perfect example of Nissan's PURE DRIVE strategy as it replaces the previous 2.0 dCi with a more efficient engine that not only delivers lower emissions and considerably improved levels of fuel economy but which offers the same level of performance as the bigger engine.
And things will get even better when Nissan's Stop / Start System becomes available on the model early in 2012, when the CO2 emissions will drop to just 119 g/km.
Qashqai is also to become the first C-segment car in the world to become available with Nissan's Around View Monitor (AVM), designed to make parking as safe as simple as possible. Previously only found as a feature on premium & luxury models, AVM brings a level of sophistication to Qashqai unavailable on any of its rivals and is in line with Nissan's policy of bringing advanced technology and innovation at affordable prices to the mass market.
Changes to Juke's overall gearing have further improved CO2 emissions, in line with Nissan's commitment to continually reduce the environmental impact of its vehicles. The changes allow the top selling 1.5-litre diesel versions to retain their Pure Drive badges. A Pure Drive badge on the back of a new Nissan now means it produces less than 130 g/km of CO2 rather than the 140g/km entry point when the strategy was introduced in 2008.
There's also a special version, created to help celebrate Qashqai's cheeky younger brother's first birthday. Juke Kuro (Japanese for black) adds dramatic black features to the car - including gloss black 17-inch alloy wheels. The black features underline the sporting nature of the car, especially when coupled to the potent 1.6-litre DIG-T engine and Nissan's advanced All Mode 4x4-i electronically controlled four-wheel drive system with Torque Vectoring. Kuro has been launched in the UK, Spain, Russia & Belgium.
But for a seriously sporting Juke, you need look no further than the remarkable Juke-R concept, confirmed recently by Nissan. Currently under development, it's a Juke on the outside but underneath it's pure Nissan GT-R. Encased under Juke's bonnet is the GT-R's 480PS twin turbo V6 engine while underneath you'll find GT-R's formidable four-wheel drive chassis.
The Juke-R project, commissioned by Nissan Europe, has been instigated to showcase Nissan's leadership in the Crossover market. It fuses the world's most innovative sports car, the Nissan GT-R with the most exciting Crossover to date - the Juke.
Two fully road legal examples are being hand-built for show and go... but, sadly, not for production.....although the project does give a clear indication towards possible Juke sports-derivatives for the future. Watch this space...
Why Murano is not on sale in the UK
Further to the recent events in Japan, its impact on exchange rate and the global supply constraints for automatic transmissions, NMGB has taken the decision to reduce line-up complexity by suspending Murano from the model line-up as from May 31st 2011.
We will obviously closely monitor the global situation in the coming months and look for suitable opportunities to re-introduce Murano within the product portfolio if conditions become favourable.