Nissan's funky cube is likely the most unique car on the road today, but its sales are cause for concern.
The Nissan cube (yes, with a lowercase "c") is without a doubt one of the most funky new cars on the market, taking the boxy style of the Scion xB to a new level with asymmetrical lines - but it appears the styling may be a bit too extreme for most.
According to a discussion between Nissan North America's top sales and marketing executive, Brian Carolin, and reporters at the Los Angeles Auto Show (via AutoWeek), Nissan intends to continue supporting the cube in the U.S., despite recording a dismal 198 total nationwide sales last month.
The way Carolin sees it, the cube "is a niche product that has found its place in the market." That may be a hard line to sell with just 198 sales in October, which at that rate, would equate to just 2,376 sales in a year - far less than many limited edition and high-dollar special models are able to move.
Despite the numbers showing an ugly picture, Carolin believes there is still hope, "It benefited particularly when gas prices were spiking earlier this year, and we were struggling to get a supply of it. We had a lot of demand for it."
The Nissan exec may be right, as the cube moved a respectable 21,471 models the first year it was on the market in the U.S., followed by a near-23,000 vehicle year in its second year. But so far in 2011, which is nearing an end, the cube has moved just 13,850 examples, marking a drop of a third.
Nissan says that part of the reason for the drop in sales was a lack of supply, which may be true, but that wouldn't explain October.
The second challenge Nissan faces is turning a profit on the cube as it is imported, and due to unfavorable exchange rates the profit margin is slim - which likely explains the lack of incentives being offered.
For now, don't expect the cube to go anywhere, "We recognize that that segment is quite limited in its potential," Carolin said. "But it's an image vehicle in its own way, and we are going to continue to see it respond when there are gas price increases. So we're definitely going to continue with it," said Carolin.
1.'Nissan's quirky cube...' view