Not only was the sub-$12,000 Nissan Versa the best-selling subcompact or micro-car of 2012, but it smashed the next-closest competitor by more than 30,000 units.
Nissan sold 113,327 of its little sedan and hatchback over the calendar year, and 10,618 in December alone. The Chevrolet Sonic was next at 81,247 units, followed by the third-place Hyundai Accent at 61,004. After Hyundai’s subcompact entry jumped in price with its recent redesign, the Versa is now the cheapest new car you can buy in the U.S. at $11,990 to start. And for buyers in a segment where price is often the most important consideration, that combined with far more standard features than the previous-generation Versa were enough to help Nissan remain on top.
The Fiat 500, the first U.S.-market model to come from the Italian automaker in decades, deserves recognition for its strong performance of 43,772 units, outselling entries from more-established small car players like Toyota and Kia.
Nissan wishes you season’s greetings with its Season To Save Sales Event, featuring Holiday Bonus Cash on the brand’s most popular 2013 models, some extra money in your pocket that’s stackable with current low-APR deals and NMAC customer financing cash back. That includes the new 37-mpg 2013 Altima Sedan and redesigned 2013 Sentra compact, the first time we’ve seen direct-to-customer rebates on these two brand-new models.
Nissan Motor Company’s new massive Tennessee lithium-ion battery production plant is now open for business, building battery packs for the soon-to-release updated 2013 Nissan LEAF for the United States and other world markets.
The United States’ new largest lithium-ion battery plant is located in Smyrna, Tenn., adjacent to Nissan’s Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant. Hiring around 300 new workers to date with a current annual capacity of 50,000 battery packs, the plant has the potential to build up to 200,000 battery packs annually if demand is there. Nissan has sold around 46,000 LEAF cars worldwide to date.
The updated 2013 Nissan LEAF is all set to launch early next year with the new U.S.-built battery packs, with rumors pointing to an increase in driving range by up to 25% over the current 2012 model’s EPA-estimated 73 miles. The plant will also produce batteries for an upcoming Infiniti electric car.
By bypassing unfavorable current yen-to-dollar exchange rates and saving on battery pack shipping costs, Nissan has also pledged to offer next year’s LEAF at a lower price point. How much lower? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Nissan’s newest advanced technology is the first to market that eliminates the direct linkage between the steering wheel in your hands and the wheels on the road.“Steer-by-wire” sends steering wheel input through several CPU modules (with redundancy in case one should fail), then actuating the steering rack and in turn the wheels wheels via an electronic signal.
This is unlike every production car sold today, which use hydraulic-assisted or sometimes electronic-assisted steering, but still turn the wheels through a direct mechanical linkage. Using a clutch and standard-style steering shaft, Nissan’s system will give way to mechanical linkage should CPU signals fail.
The system, which is rumored to debut on next year’s production next-gen 2014 Infiniti G, has the power to completely eliminate jarring feedback at the steering wheel in the case of rough roads. Using a camera, steer-by-wire can also compensate for crosswinds and road banking, creating a point-and-drive experience without the need for constant small corrections. On a sport sedan like the G37, this is a good or bad thing, depending on who you ask. It’s all in the implementation, and we’ll see how natural it all feels. Because the car can now turn itself, the tech also allows for Nissan’s new emergency pedestrian and obstacle avoidance system.
Steer-by-wire is the next logical step toward fully autonomous cars, and like current production throttle-by-wire and brake-by-wire systems, it has the ability to improve fuel efficiency by eliminating extra load on the engine. There’s something disconcerting about quite literally giving up control of the car to a computer, but we suppose the march of progress cannot be stopped.
The updated 2014 Nissan GT-R made its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, packing some small but significant changes to the world’s quickest car under $100,000.
2014 Nissan GT-R: What’s New?
While power stands pat at 545 horsepower and 463 lb-ft. of torque, engine response will be significantly improved. For that we can thank new fuel injectors, which will improve throttle response at high rpm, as well as a new oil pan baffle, upgraded intake system and revised exhaust. Torque will come on quicker, and while we don’t have test numbers, the AWD GT-R will accelerate from 0-60 mph in well under 3 seconds.
Other changes include a suspension recalibration including stiffer spring and damping rates for all four wheels, and a revised front anti-roll bar, which Nissan says will help stability at high speeds. The chassis has been given additional support for even more rigidity, and the car now features a lower center of gravity.
Inside, there’s a new available interior package featuring sumptuous Red Amber semi-aniline leather and hand stitching. The flashy GT-R Black Series will continue for 2014.
The 2014 Nissan GT-R will arrive in U.S. dealerships in January 2013. Pricing should stay about the same at within spitting distance of $100,000.