Nissan Takes Control of Mitsubishi

nissan-mitsubishi

Nissan will take a controlling stake in Mitsubishi after the latter’s fuel-economy scandal in Japan.

The scandal arose when Mitsubishi admitted it had falsified fuel-efficiency tests on at least 13 models over the last 25 years, resulting in a firestorm of negative publicity in its home market.

Mitsubishi said its investigation showed that company managers, under pressure to keep pace with fuel-economy rates reported by competitors, fabricated numbers while using procedures to calculate efficiency that did not comply with Japanese law.

The scandal has not had an impact in the United States and no cars here are affected. In fact, U.S. Mitsubishi sales have increased over the past year.

In Japan, though, the company is reeling, which has prompted Nissan to swoop in with a lifeline.

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Nissan Could Rule the EV Mass Market

Does the NIssan IDS concept preview the next Leaf?

Does the Nissan IDS concept preview the next Leaf?

Conversation tends to drift toward Tesla and its competitors when the topic of discussion turns to electric cars.

That happens because Tesla is a sexy topic. Its cars are fast, beautiful, expensive, and represent some of the most advanced technology in the auto business. Both mainstream and upstart automakers want to compete with Tesla.

Audi and Porsche are scrambling to field a competitor to the Model S, while Karma Automotive teases us with the rebirth of an early EV. But these are all cars that will require an executive salary to afford.

The real money, though, is probably found where very few are currently looking: the mass market.

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Some Used EVs Offer Better Deals Than Their Gas Counterparts

Fiat 500e used car photo

Used electric cars continue to drop in value. Willing to cut the fuel hose out of your life? It might prove less expensive to buy a used electric vehicle than its gas-powered counterpart.

The CarGurus CarValues page helped me do some research on the Instant Market Value of used electric vehicles and their gas-powered counterparts. It’s a helpful tool that helps you see the true cost of what used cars are selling for in your area in real time. (Your results may vary from mine based on geography and other fluctuations, because Instant Market Value can change as more cars get listed for sale.)

Fiat 500e

Let’s look at the Fiat 500e as an example. A 2014 model has an Instant Market Value of $13,445 for a used version with 24,000 miles on it. In this instance, a 2014 Fiat 500 in the Pop trim level will be less expensive at $11,929.

However, as the EPA’s fuel economy site points out, it will cost you $7,000 in average in fuel costs to drive the gas-powered Fiat for 5 years. The 500e has a 5-year energy cost of $2,500. It will take you only about 18 months to make up the difference. That’s probably worth it depending on how long you plan to keep the car.

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Ask Teens to Design a Nissan, They’ll Design a Charger

Nissan IDx Concept

I don’t understand the teenage mind. Oh sure, I had one once, but even that one did things I don’t understand as an adult.

Understanding how teens think about cars is paramount to the future of auto manufacturers. Everything from how cars are designed to the features they’ll include to how they are sold could change with the maturation of today’s teenagers.

Here’s the kicker, though: Teens are fickle, and what they like now as young people could change 180 degrees by the time they are car-buying adults.

That’s why it’s a bad idea to let 15-year-olds design cars, because the result will look something like this.

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Ready for the Datsun Comeback?

New Datsun

“Is that an old Ferrari!?”

My son pointed and loudly exclaimed to anyone within earshot that he had spotted some sort of rare Prancing Horse. In reality, the car that captured his attention was a beautiful Datsun 240Z.

He hadn’t even heard of Datsun, and he couldn’t hide his disappointment. I explained that the old 240Z certainly shares some looks with a Ferrari GTO, or even a Jaguar E-Type, but the car really defined the affordable sports car market in the United States and was, and still is, unmistakably Datsun.

Then I told him that Datsun isn’t around anymore.

“Well, I think Datsun should come back,” he said.

Datsun is indeed coming back, though in a much different way than my son in mind.

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What Would a smart SUV Be Called? We’ll Soon Find Out

The naming strategy for smart isn’t hard to figure out. Its subcompact vehicle, which seats two, is known as the ‘fortwo.’

While predictable and fairly generic, it’s at least better than many of the alpha-numeric monikers other automakers are slapping onto the rear ends of their cars. Sure, smart could’ve imitated Saab’s 9-3 and called its car the 4-2, but it opted to keep things simple and let the name tell consumers exactly what the car is for.

It works.

So when smart announces more models coming down the pipe, it’s not hard to guess what the names will be.

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Which Would You Choose: Jail Time or Having Your Dream Car Crushed?

Nissan Skyline Big Bird

An innocent bystander shall never suffer for the crime of another.

That seems like perfectly logical common sense, right? But what if that perfectly innocent bystander is a 1995 Nissan Skyline and the punishment is a date with the crusher?

Authorities in Wisconsin seem to have no respect for greatness, or compassion for the innocent, as they have punished a man for attempting to sell gray-market vehicles here by sentencing a 1995 and a 1996 Skyline to death. And yes, there were much better ways to handle this.

First, the story:

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Datsun Returns, and Some Ask Why

1983 Datsun Sentra

Nissan announced this week that it was reviving the Datsun brand to represent the company in developing markets—namely India, Indonesia and Russia—beginning in 2014. Datsun cars became Nissans in 1981-’82.

The company plans to put $400 million into modernizing its Indonesia facility and tripling its dealerships in Southeast Asia. This lucrative market has been dominated by Toyota and is growing rapidly. One report predicts auto sales in Indonesia will rise by 50 percent in five years.

For those in the U.S., memories of Datsun cars can encompass everything from the 1982 Sentra pictured above (one of which was owned by my son, who says it was the absolute worst-handling car he ever drove) to the 240Z280Z cars that were loved by many.

So Nissan will recreate Datsun as a low-end brand to capture some of the burgeoning minicar-subcompact market in developing countries. The question is why did they resurrect the old name?

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Nissan Juke-R Proves a Point: Fast Makes Up for Small and Ugly

The Nissan Juke, in its stock form as a small crossover, defines the word “distinctive.”

Nothing else on the road looks like it. It’s small and bulbous but efficient and sure-footed. Its headlights poke out above the hood like a crocodile’s eyes breaking the surface of the water. Some might call it a playful look, others regard it as downright ugly. Its 1.6-liter direct-injected inline-4 turbo puts out 188-hp. Paired with a 6-speed manual transmission, some might even say the Juke is a fun, spirited drive. With the standard CVT transmission, though, it’s like piloting a car propelled by rubber bands.

As I always like to say, 188-hp is OK. But 485 is better.

Introducing the Nissan Juke-R: a vehicle all automakers should imitate at least once.

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