November 29, 2011

Nismo expansion rolls on with Juke concept car

Nov. 29 — Tokyo — Nismo enjoyed a record-breaking season on the track in 2011, and the motorsports arm is unveiling its new strategy with a more powerful, sportier concept version of Nissan’s Juke compact crossover at the Tokyo Motor Show Wednesday.

Starting with the Juke, Nismo aims to become synonymous with performance versions of the carmaker’s mainstream lineup, says President Shoichi Miyatani.

“The timing is perfect for us to announce this expansion of Nismo,” says Miyatani. “By incorporating this heritage of motorsports into high performance cars, we can contribute to this Nissan brand statement.”

The expansion of Nismo includes a new headquarters in Tsurumi, Yokohama, a larger after-parts business as well as more Nismo-tuned Nissan models.

In the past, Nismo’s road-car activities have been limited to high-performance models on a small scale, but Chiaki Sumi, chief project specialist for the Juke, says the compact crossover’s distinctive design and mainstream appeal make it ideal for the performance division’s treatment.

He added that if feedback for the modified Juke is good, the model could go on sale.

“It depends on the reaction at the Tokyo Motor Show. If it’s quite positive, we’ll consider introducing it into the market,” he says.

Wins this year for Nismo included Japan’s Super GT, FIA GT-1 World Championship and Le Mans 24-Hour class titles.

“Nismo has been appealing to the fans of the motorsports basically, in the past, and I think we have strong passions and support from those fans,” says Miyatani. “But by passing and broadening a Nismo product — branded products — I’m sure we can contribute and we can enhance the customer base for Nissan.”

The public's first view of the Juke Nismo is Wednesday at the Tokyo Motor Show, and based on traction there, a global sales road show could follow.