Although it may be quirky, attractive (to a certain few), and fuel efficient, the Nissan Cube isn’t doing so well when it comes to sales in 2011. How bad? Year-over-year through October, sales were down nearly 34%. But even so, Nissan is choosing to continue to produce and import the five-passenger, $15,500 people-mover into the States.
"It's a niche product that has found its place in the market," Brian Carolin, Nissan North America's senior vice president for sales and marketing, said to Automotive News. "It benefited particularly when gas prices were spiking earlier this year, and we were struggling to get a supply of it. We had a lot of demand for it."
Just 198 examples left dealer lots in October. The limited-edition $90,000 GT-R nearly bested the Cube’s sales number with 101 bought for the month. Contrarily, the supercar’s sales are up 53% for the year.
As Carolin mentioned, buyers are more attracted to the Cube’s unique combination of standout style, utility, and generous fuel economy (27 city/31 highway) when fuel prices are high like they were in 2009 and 2010. Two years ago, Nissan sold 21,471 Cubes, while last year, that amount rose to 22,968.
Another sticking point is the rising value of the Yen, which ultimately cuts dealers’ per-vehicle profit margins considerably. The Cube is built at Nissan’s Oppama Plant in Kanagawa, Japan.
"We recognize that that segment is quite limited in its potential," Carolin said. "But it's an image vehicle in its own way, and we are going to continue to see it respond when there are gas price increases. So we're definitely going to continue with it."