Nissan dumps Cube and Murano drop-top

The Cube’s boxy design never caught on with U.S. consumers.
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NASHVILLE -- Two of Nissan's oddest models will disappear from the lineup in 2015 -- the Cube and the convertible Murano CrossCabriolet, the company said.

Both are examples of Nissan's desire to challenge the market with polarizing designs. The 2014 model year will be the last for both.

The boxy Cube sold just 2,294 units in the first six months of this year, down 31 percent from the first half of 2013.

The Cube, introduced in the United States in 2009, was a quick attempt to feed an existing Japanese-focused small car into a rapidly unraveling U.S. retail environment. The 2008-09 recession resulted in plummeting sales in traditional U.S. vehicle segments, including trucks.

Nissan believed it had a chance to stimulate young consumers with a boxy subcompact that made up for reduced power with the promise of highway fuel economy topping 30 mpg.

But the import never caught on, especially as Nissan in 2012 began rolling out redesigned traditional models with higher fuel economy, including the Versa, Sentra, Altima and Rogue. The Cube's peak annual volume came in 2010, with sales of 22,968.

The Murano CrossCabriolet, which arrived in 2011, earned steady criticism around the industry for its unusual design. Although buyers gave it high marks in customer satisfaction, some critics compared the drop-top mid-sized cross-over to a bathtub on wheels.

Nissan defended the design as a testament to the brand's willingness to forge new segments and solicit consumers looking for novel styling.

The convertible version came with a 2014 base price of $42,855 including shipping, which is $13,465 higher than the base nonconvertible Murano.

Dropping the convertible occurs with the arrival of a new-generation 2015 Murano late this year. A Nissan spokesman says there is no plan to create another convertible version.

You can reach Lindsay Chappell at lchappell@crain.com.


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