Nissan Almost Axed the Maxima Four Years Ago
The 2016 Nissan Maxima goes on sale in June, 2015 with an impressive, concept-like design and Infiniti-like premium interior features, but the sports sedan almost didn’t happen. That’s the word from Pierre Loing, vice president of Nissan’s U.S. product planning, who told Auto News that the Japanese brand was planning to kill the nameplate just four years ago.
Nissan pondered the idea in 2011, only a couple of years after it had introduced the seventh-generation Maxima. Amidst hiking fuel prices and an industry that was still struggling to recover after the recession, Nissan shifted most of its resources to building more compact and fuel-efficient cars. It introduced the electric Leaf and had already began to focus on cost-efficient, global platforms. As it was sold almost exclusively in North America, the Maxima started to make less sense in the company’s big picture.
Fortunately, Loing stepped in to make a case for the big sedan and convinced Carlos Ghosn to greenlight the an eight-gen car in early 2012.
"A lot of people assume it was a forgone conclusion that, of course we will continue with another Maxima. But frankly, the forgone conclusion at that moment was that there would not be another Maxima," said Loing. "There were big reasons to fight for it," he added, including the fact that it is Nissan’s longest-selling nameplate in the U.S.
He even went as far as to say that the Maxima has better name recognition than the Nissan brand itself. Axing it would’ve taken a big chunk out of the brand’s image in the U.S.
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Why it matters
Even though the Maxima wouldn’t have been the first renowned nameplate to get the axe due to a troubled automotive market, its disappearance would’ve left a big gap in Nissan’s U.S. lineup. Sooner or later, Nissan would have needed a sedan above the Altima, which would’ve probably led to a revival. An all-new model would have been out of the question given the Maxima’s cachet in North America. So why discontinue a nameplate only to bring it back a few years later? I bet that was one of the questions Loing used to make a case for a new Maxima.
Fortunately, Ghosn saw potential in a redesigned sedan and the Maxima lived on to bring us the new sports sedan set to go on sale this summer. It remains to be seen whether Nissan made the right decision or not, but the new sedan seems more than promising.
Find out more about the new Nissan Maxima in our review here.
Source: Automotive News