Developing the 2016 Nissan Maxima
Here’s something you probably didn’t know about the Nissan Maxima, which is now in its eighth generation: The car, which is the flagship of the company’s lineup, the vehicle that is at the top of the line that starts with the Versa and goes up through Sentra and Altima*, is, says Vishnu Jayamohan, Nissan senior product planner, the longest-running nameplate on offer from Nissan.
While it may be dwarfed in sales numbers by the other vehicles mentioned, know that this is a vehicle that there is clearly a pride in on behalf of the Nissan team that worked on the car.
And Jayamohan is one of those people.
The car was designed, primarily, in San Diego, engineered in Farmington Hills, and is being produced in Smyrna, which pretty much makes this a solidly American car—and the U.S. is the #1 market for the vehicle, according to Jayamohan.
In this edition of “Autoline After Hours” Jayamohan talks with host John McElroy, Detroit Free Press auto critic Mark Phelan and me about the development of the Maxima.
Among the points he makes is that while other full-size sedans have tended to be more staid in design, they worked hard to make a statement with the Maxima in terms of its presence: while they don’t necessarily call it the “Four-Door Sports Car” as they once did, there is no mistaking the fact that when you shape the sheet metal with such bold lines, this is not your classic businessman’s sedan with four doors to take clients out to lunch.
In addition to which, Phelan talks about a road trip that occurred 100 years ago: Edsel Ford, the only son of Henry and Clara, and some of his pals headed out in Model T’s and other cars of the day and headed west from Detroit (actually, Dearborn) and rolled all the way to San Francisco. There are some wonderful photos of the trip on display during the show.
Speaking of Edsel Ford, this is a restored version of his 1934 Model 40 Special Speedster. Obviously, he didn’t have this for a trip in 1915. But clearly this car gives a good sense of the style and adventurousness of the man, who is probably one of the best executives in the history of the industry who isn’t particularly well acknowledged for his efforts. One of his lasting legacies: he was the man who bought Lincoln.
Anyway, the Maxima, Edsel, the sales numbers in Greece, the traffic jam in London, John and I drive the ZF autonomous car in Germany, and more, which you can see right here:
*There are other cars in the Nissan lineup. But arguably, these are not exactly “mainstream.” That is, there is the quirky Cube, which is going away. There is the Juke, which pretty much looks like a French car, and you know how well French cars do in the U.S. market (it may be interesting to note that in June 2015 Nissan sold 2,567 Jukes in the U.S., and 10,300 in Europe, which just goes to show that tastes in cars are not necessarily global). There is the LEAF, the electric vehicle that Carlos Ghosn continues to have tremendous faith in. And there are the 370Z and the GT-R, cars that are meant for those who are interested in looking good. . .and going fast. Really fast.
It’s the fifth generation of a vehicle that has been increasing in sales year after year since its introduction in 1997.
To know that 3,000 cars have been delivered since October 2015 would undoubtedly result in a shrug: in 2017 Toyota delivered 387,081 Camrys, so that 3,000 is less than one percent, and this is in one year, not just over two.
Outside of a pickup truck, there is no vehicle that’s sold in greater units than the Toyota RAV4. So when they developed the new generation, they had a whole lot to consider.