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Nissan bets on new Skyline sports sedan to heal image after Ghosn scandal

Bloomberg Tokyo | Updated on July 16, 2019 Published on July 16, 2019

Nissan is facing enormous pressure to revive its business following a car inspection scandal, the exposure of poor corporate governance practices and a year when it earned its lowest operating profit in a decade   -  REUTERS

The driverless sports car will let drivers take their hands off the wheel on highways, and offers connected services

Nissan Motor Co unveiled a new version of its Skyline sports sedan. The new vehicle includes the car manufacturer’s most advanced autonomous driving technology, as well as design elements shared with models like the GT-R sports coupe.

The automobile, Nissan’s first major product debut in Japan since the arrest and ouster of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn, will let drivers take their hands off the wheel on highways, and also offers connected services.

Ghosn, arrested in November in Tokyo on allegations of financial misconduct, is free on bail as he prepares for a trial that will probably start next year. The former chairman of the alliance between Nissan, Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors Corp, has denied all charges against him.

Nissan is facing enormous pressure to revive its business following a car inspection scandal, the exposure of poor corporate governance practices and a year when it earned its lowest operating profit in a decade.

Hiroto Saikawa, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Yokohama-based automaker, is spending the equivalent of about $440 million in the next three years to introduce more than 20 new products and refresh core models.

What is unique about the Skyline sports sedan?

In the Skylines case, the refresh partly takes the form of a return to tradition. A previous iteration of the car, released in 2013, was sold in the Japanese market with the Infiniti emblem, but some fans missed the classic Nissan hood ornament. That has been restored on the new model.

In a separate move, Nissan decided earlier this year to move its Infiniti luxury car division back to Japan from Hong Kong, integrating it with global design, research and development and manufacturing functions. The move was a reversal of Ghosn’s strategy to position Infiniti closer to China to tap into the markets growth, which enjoyed limited success.

The hybrid version of the new Skyline, available in two- and four-wheel drive versions, will include Nissan’s latest version of ProPilot as a standard feature. The autonomous technology offers lane-changing and driver monitoring functions. A mobile connection will let an operator contact occupants, as well as offer updated maps and in-car Wi-Fi.

In an attempt to capture some of the magic of the GT-R, which was spawned from earlier versions of the Skyline, the new sedan has a front grille that resembles the front of Nissan’s iconic sports car. Additionally, the gas-only Skyline features Nissan’s 3.0-liter V6 twin-turbo engine, with a tuned version capable of 400 horsepower.

Although the Skyline is one of Nissan’s flagship models, the automobile manufacturer expects to sell only about 200 of the new vehicles per month, given waning demand for mid-sized sedans. The cars will sell for between about $45,000 and $52,000 (5.5 million yen to 6.3 million yen), depending on the model.

Outside of Japan, the Skyline is sold as the Infiniti Q50 and competes with sedans by Daimler AGs Mercedes-Benz and BMW AG.

Published on July 16, 2019
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