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Nissan Altima may return – eventually
Next-gen sedan in the picture as Nissan MD still sees value in larger cars
9 May 2017
NISSAN Australia may join the looming battle between the upcoming European-built Holden Commodore launching early next year and the all-new Japanese-sourced Toyota Camry due in October with the return of the Altima badge.
Unrelated to the Thai-built four-door sedan dropped from the Australian line-up earlier this year due to sluggish sales, the car in question will offer dramatic new-from-the-ground-up styling that company insiders deem striking enough to put it back into consideration for a local launch in about 2019.
However, with the mid-size and large-car segments contracting by six per cent and 20 per cent year to date – the latter partly due to the demise of the Ford Falcon – Nissan Australia managing director and CEO, Richard Emery, admitted that such a move would still be a gamble for the company.
“It’s a tough decision to make, to be honest,” he told GoAuto at the launch of the Nissan X-Trail SUV late last month.
“There will be a new Altima coming. There is already an existing Maxima available around the world, so effectively we have two products that can fit that segment. And, on face value, do we really want to go through the process for a product in a segment with the volumes being so small?“On the other hand, it is nice to have from a market perspective a market leader in terms of size and spec, even if you don’t do a lot of volume out of it. We’ll certainly consider what’s available. Altima is the more logical one.
Maxima is not available in right-hand drive anywhere in the world so that would be difficult.”
Nissan’s interest in the next Altima could be due to the promising Vmotion 2.0 Concept from this year’s Detroit motor show, that previewed what the model, which is due to break cover sometime next year in America, could look like.
Launched in late 2013, the outgoing Altima was introduced with a keen $29,990 plus on-roads starting price for the base 127kW/230Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol ST to help it gain traction in both the fleet and private buyer markets in Australia.
However Nissan only managing a career-best 1791 registrations for the Altima in 2014 to come in sixth, compared to the (albeit locally built and widely subsidised) Toyota Camry on 22,044 units. Along with two other four-pot variants, there was also a $44,490 Ti-S V6 flagship. All were front-wheel drive autos.
Over five generations, the Altima nameplate has been one of Nissan’s most successful in the United States, growing out of the Japanese-market U13-series Bluebird from 1992, before breaking away as a North American-only mid-sizer that encapsulated the L30-series (1997), L31 (2001), and L32 (2006) and today’s L33 (2012). More than 300,000 found homes in the US last year.
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