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Nissan Australia says no to JDM Skyline – for now

Infiniti exit sees Skyline-related Q50 depart but Nissan keeps options open for future

Nissan logo5 Nov 2019

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in TOKYO

NISSAN says it does not intend to resurrect the Skyline sedan or coupe in Australia now that the Infiniti brand has ceased to exist in this market, although that does not mean that future generations of the long-running series will not be considered should there be a business case moving forward. 

 

Speaking to GoAuto at the Tokyo motor show last week, Nissan Australia managing director Stephen Lester said that there is no chance that the V37 model that was sold as the Infiniti Q50 and Q60 will return wearing the same storied Skyline badge it does in its Japanese domestic market (JDM).

 

This is despite the fact that the Australian press was in Japan partly to drive an MY20 Skyline last week fitted with the company’s new ProPilot Version 2.0, which is said to be the world’s first intelligent navigated highway driving system with hands-off single-land driving technology.  

 

“We don’t have any plans to reintroduce the Skyline brand in Australia,” Mr Lester said. “At this point, we have to focus strictly on defending the territory for the Nissan brand itself, and we have a very wide selection of products that we can bring to market that consumers are looking for and demanding in their purchases, so we’ll focus on that first and foremost.

 

“(However), I’m not one to rule things out, never one to close the door on opportunity, but at the moment this isn’t part of the direction.”

 

When asked why the Australian press assessed the latest JDM Skyline with ProPilot 2.0, Mr Lester explained that it was to sample some of Nissan’s more advanced autonomous driving technologies, that may or may not be seen in Australia over the next few years. This may even include the mooted V38 Skyline successor when it comes along in a couple of years.

 

“Part of the experience was for journalists to experience what is possible, what else is out there, in an environment like Tokyo, and to experience other exciting automotive products,” he said.

 

Of course, as the Infiniti Q50 sedan, Q60 coupe and – prior to 2014 – G37 series, the 13th Skyline generation since the series commenced in 1957 as the Prince Skyline had struggled to find traction in a declining premium mid-size market dominated by the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

 

That said, the series has a strong Australian connection, with the R31 Skyline manufactured in Melbourne from 1986 to 1990 in its seventh (R31) guise as a replacement for the long-running Bluebird/200B/180B ranges after a successful tilt as a luxury import starting with the 1972 C110 Datsun-badged 240K, 1977 C210 Datsun Skyline and 1981 R30 Skyline. 

 

Prince, by the way, was actually a rival car-maker borne out of aircraft manufacturing – just as Saab had – and released an electric vehicle in 1946 (the Tama) but was merged with Nissan in 1966.


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