Nissan Motor Co. debuted the latest edition of its Z series coupe in New York, marking the seventh generation of a sports-car line that was introduced in 1969 as the Fairlady Z in Japan and the Datsun 240Z in the United States.
The new Z is the first rebuild of the two-door platform in over a decade and will be available for purchase next spring, Nissan said in a statement Tuesday. The car will be offered in the $40,000 range, said Chief Operating Officer Ashwani Gupta, with full pricing details coming closer to when sales start.
“This is part of our culture,” he said in an interview. “And I’m pretty sure that it will bring further momentum in our growth.”
Chief Executive Officer Makoto Uchida is cutting costs and capacity after Nissan posted its biggest loss in two decades in the 2019-2020 fiscal year, while seeking to move past the turmoil triggered by the arrest of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn. Last year, Uchida unveiled the Ariya electric crossover and promised to roll out a dozen new vehicles within 18 months as part of a turnaround effort dubbed Nissan NEXT.
Gupta said the company, which recently forecast a return to annual profit for the first time in three years, is on track to meet the goals laid out in the plan. COVID-19 outbreaks continue to pose a challenge, as does the global semiconductor shortage.
“It is progressing, but still there’s a ways to go to be 100% out of it,” he said of the lack of chips. “Accordingly, we are adjusting our production around the world to cater to the customer demand, like keeping the new models as the priority because, for Nissan, new models in production is one of the main pillars of growth.”
Dropping a numerical prefix to its name in the U.S. for the first time, the revamped sports car will come in two versions, the Z Sport and the Z Performance, and a variety of two-tone and monotone color options. Gupta didn’t provide a sales target but predicted that consumers would be pleased with the Z’s performance — including a V6 twin-turbocharged engine with 400 horsepower — and its link with Nissan’s history.
Along with the Ariya and Z, updated iterations of Nissan’s Rogue, Pathfinder and Frontier are among the vehicles coming to market.
Nissan works with partners Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. as part of a three-way alliance. The partnership includes a lopsided ownership structure skewed in favor of Renault that has long been a source of tension between the automakers. The French company owns 43% of Nissan, while the the Yokohama-based carmaker has just 15% of Renault and no voting rights. Nissan, in turn, holds a 34% stake in Mitsubishi.
The 2018 arrest of Ghosn brought tensions further into the open, but Uchida recently used a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron to offer assurances that Nissan’s relationship with Renault is good.
“I can confirm there are no tensions,” he said. “As far as the alliance is concerned, we are focusing on our core areas of synergies, and now we are using electrification as the next pillar to find more and more synergies.”
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