California Autos Examiner

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Next Nissan Van to Share Platform With JDM Elgrand?

The Quest is leaving the building, well at least in its current forum. Was it the wild and crazy center IP dash (eventually remedied) or the initial quality niggles at Nissan's Mississippi plant that doomed the van to a perennial "also ran" we'll never know. With the Mississippi plant being re-cast to build commercial trucks, the Quest will be getting the boot (probably after MY09). In its place with be a Japanese built van that will more than likely share a platform with Nissan's Elgrand van.

Will this attempt be the one to finally win over buyers? It's going to be a tough row to hoe. Minivan sales are slowing and with a barely a toe-hold in the existing market, it'll be a challenge to get buyer's attention. Nissan has tried the futuristic tack with little success, so it may have to try something else. Interestingly enough, the Forum concept that debuted during last year's auto show season was quite swoopy. I'm very curious to see how Nissan will position the styling of this next van. The market in this country is quite conservative when it comes to minivans, but if Nissan doesn't generate buzz it will probably never break out of its low volume status. One feature I wouldn't be surprised to see is the "missing B-Pillar on the driver's side." If Nissan can get this past safety tests, such a trick feature might wow some buyers. Another option is to really luxe up the van, creating a cocoon for buyers who are looking to impress more than ferry around 2-year-olds. Soft leathers, private jet inspired seating, and electronic tricks galore might call out to male buyers.

Hats off to Nissan for giving the minivan one more go.

picture source: Nissan Amenio concept van, Nissan Motors

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