April 12, 2006

Nissan Press Conference New York International Auto Show

Mr. Carlos Ghosn President and CEO Nissan Motor Co., Ltd

The vision behind “SHIFT_” has led us to look at each car segment to see what we can make better.  This has led us to the next generation of Nissan products... to SHIFT_ 2.0.

In 2001, Nissan was selling 150,000 Altimas in what is the largest volume car segment in the U.S. 

With the 2002 Altima, we made a radical shift, targeting the group of about 20 percent of this large segment who were bored with the existing vehicles – offering them instead a product with dramatically raised levels of style and dynamic performance.

Our “cure for the common sedan” soon became a cure for many of Nissan’s ills as well – stimulating sales, profits and the brand and proving that there is, indeed, an enthusiastic audience for exciting, stylish vehicles.

Altima was named “North American Car of the Year” and became Nissan’s top-selling vehicle, with its 2005 sales of more than 250,000 making it the fourth best-selling car in the U.S., and with the youngest buyers, on average, in the segment. 

By every measure, Altima is a resounding success, a power brand in our rejuvenated product lineup.  But now, having redefined Altima’s place in the market, it’s time for the next generation.

With the 2007 Altima, we’re taking a very good car up to the next level – an evolution in design, but a revolution in the interior and under the skin. 
No area was off limits and no detail overlooked in creating this new generation Altima. 

We set our goals high, demanding a seamless integration of expressive styling, athletic performance and intuitive technology.

The look of this new Altima continues its iconic design.  But now it has a leaner, more sophisticated body shape.  In early marketing clinics, the design has evoked extremely positive reactions.

The interior provides a new benchmark for layout, materials and quality.  It is quiet and comfortable with refined workmanship and unexpected amenities for the class.

The greatest area of improvement comes where Altima already excelled – in providing exhilarating driving pleasure.  Our engineering target was nothing less than “the best performing large front-wheel drive sedan.”  And we believe we’ve achieved it.

The revolution under the skin starts with the first application of Renault-Nissan Alliance’s all-new “D” platform, which provides much improved body rigidity, a lower engine mounting position and an all-new front suspension that virtually eliminates torque steer.

Combined with an improved rear suspension, this Altima offers nimbleness and indulgent ride comfort with no compromise of either.

Another strength of Altima has always been its responsive power – so, of course, we raised the stakes on both the V6 and 4-cylinder engines.  The “next generation” of the award-winning VQ V6 includes twin induction and reduced maintenance.  The refined 4-cylinder features reduced NVH and improved performance. 

Both engines are available with our smooth, responsive and efficient Nissan Xtronic CVTs, which provide a seamless synergy between engine and transmission.  The V6 Altima CVT includes an all-new adaptive logic controller for enhanced performance.

CVTs help make good driving cars even better driving cars, good fuel-efficient cars even better fuel-efficient cars, which are two reasons why Nissan is committed to selling one million CVT-equipped vehicles a year by the end of fiscal year 2007.

The 2007 Altima also raises the standard in class for satisfying both needs and wants, with nothing overlooked.  Available technology includes Intelligent Key, Bluetooth, RearView Monitor and touch screen navigation.

The new Altima goes on sale in fall 2006, with the Altima Hybrid model available in early 2007.

This new Altima engages the senses and stirs the soul.  A SHIFT_ has been made... again.

The all-new Altima will be joined in Nissan showrooms by a refined 2007 Maxima.  The changes build on Maxima’s many strengths as Nissan’s flagship performance sedan and include a new front end appearance, an enhanced interior, Intelligent Key, a new seat design and more.

All 2007 Maxima models will be equipped with standard Xtronic CVT, giving Maxima what we believe will be the best automatic feel, performance and efficiency in its class.

Along with the Z, Maxima has always been one of Nissan’s strongest brands... at the root of what Nissan stands for as a company.

Maxima has Nissan’s most loyal customers and, with this redesign, remains at the top of our lineup.

The new Maxima, with its unmatched blend of sports and luxury, will be available in early summer.

New York is the finale of an exciting season of motor show activities for Nissan and Infiniti...starting in Tokyo, with five dramatic concepts including Pivo and the GT-R Proto... moving on to Detroit’s reveal of the Nissan URGE, Versa, Sentra and the Infiniti Coupe Concept...the new Quest in Chicago... and Geneva, with the Nissan Terranaut, culminating with the three new 2007 production vehicles you see here before you today.

This is the next generation of Nissan products... the next generation of drivers... the next generation of SHIFT_... SHIFT_2.0.

After a quiet start to the 2006 model year, Nissan will launch five completely new or greatly refined core products in the second half... the spacious, entry-level Versa... the larger, more powerful Sentra... the refined, segment-defining Quest... and the new Maxima and Altima.

Infiniti, which has been led by the continued strength of the new M, gains momentum with the arrival of the 2007 G.

These products will launch in the critical U.S. market, where the outlook for the industry is stable.  Nissan’s fiscal year 2005 U.S. sales, which concluded 12 days ago, were 1,075,097, an increase of 6.1% and the second straight year of 1 million plus sales.

Globally, we are on pace toward meeting the goals of NISSAN Value-Up... with 10 new models in fiscal 2006 and 12 in fiscal 2007. 

One of those models is already generating considerable interest, the next generation GT-R.  At the Tokyo Motor Show, we previewed the GT-R Proto but we did not disclose the global branding for the car.  I am pleased to reveal today that the next GT-R will be sold exclusively through the Nissan sales channel in the U.S. and around the world.  GT-R will be available in the U.S. in the spring of 2008.

In today’s competitive automotive landscape, there is no place for half-measures... no place for shortcuts... and no substitute for great products. 
At Nissan, passion drives our company, passionate people drive our products.

And the next generation begins today.  Thank you.