In the wake of other successful B-segment icons, such as the Scion xB, Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris, Nissan has signaled its plans of transplanting another diminutive Japanese vehicle to the U.S. market—the Cube.
Rumors have been circling for months regarding a stateside version of "the other econobox." Larry Dominique, Nissan North American's vice president of product planning, recently confirmed that a new model has been slated. While the current version will not make it to the U.S. market, the 2008-scheduled redesign should bring the Cube here by 2009. Sales for Nissan's larger passenger vehicles have been slow as of late, but the smaller Versa has been a huge success. Through April, 21,208 units have been sold this year, placing it directly behind the class-leading Toyota Yaris. Official images of the next-generation Cube have not been released, but Shiro Nakamura, Nissan's senior vice president and design director, claims the U.S.-market Cube "will look exactly the same as the Japanese model, otherwise there's no meaning." Minor tweaks are expected, but the overall shape should not change significantly. The boxy design worked for the original xB and Honda Element and Nissan believes the same recipe will work for the Cube.
Dominique openly shares the company's plan to market the Cube as a "gender-neutral" alternative to the Scion xB, which he states has adopted a "little young, macho-dude car" image. Female buyers should receive a fair amount of marketing when the new iteration arrives, and Nissan hopes to ignite a consumer base like it has in Japan. These types of vehicles are commonly customized by female enthusiasts for their "cute factor."
The specialty-equipment industry could take this as another sign of future trends, as it's yet another small car that young buyers can outfit with custom parts. The current Cube has been on the market since 2002 and has already started a buzz on Internet forums in the United States. When the next generation hits U.S. streets, it should not take long for enthusiasts to start personalizing them. Most of the discussions refer to the growing adoption of VIP-style modifications. In short, that means making them luxurious, comfortable and stylish. Here are a few examples of what is presently on the market and the direction consumers might want to take with their Cubes.
Kenstyle (SEMA member)
Source: Christie Schweinsberg. (May 25, 2007). "Nissan Cube Won't Target Scion xB, Exec Says." WardsAuto.com. Retrieved May 31, 2007 from www.wardsauto.com.