TOKYO -- Encouraged by the success of Toyota's Scion brand, Nissan Motor Co. plans to bring more than one small car to the United States below the Sentra, a company source says.
The company is spare with details. The first of the cars will arrive in the 2007 model year, but Nissan won't say how many more will arrive, or when.
The redesigned Sentra is scheduled to go on sale next year.
The next version of the Nissan Cube, now sold in Japan, likely will be offered in the United States. Prospects for the boxy car, which looks like the Scion xB, encourage two top Nissan executives, Steve Wilhite, senior vice president of global marketing, and CEO Carlos Ghosn.
In an interview here, Wilhite said Ghosn "would love to bring it to the U.S. market."
The Cube will be redesigned next year if it follows its four-year model cycle.
Another candidate is a compact car based on the Japan-market Tiida. In March, Nissan showed the Sport Concept, a three-door hatchback based on the Tiida, at the New York auto show.
Scion showed that Americans will buy small inexpensive cars with personality. Honda Motor Co. will join the parade next year with a derivative of the Japan-market Fit.
Nissan is looking at showing off upcoming cars for the United States all at the same time, rather than stringing them out.
Coming to America? One possibility that Nissan is looking at to fight Toyota's Scion youth brand is the Sport Concept, above, shown at the New York auto show this year.
"That's a possibility," Wilhite says. "We're trying to figure out how we will bring our product, the idea, and the brand to life as powerfully as possible."
In Japan last year, Nissan unveiled six vehicles at once and put them on sale within a five-month span. The strategy surprised the industry and won a lot of play in the Japanese media.
At the Shanghai auto show in April, Nissan showed five models at the same time.
You may e-mail Yuzo Yamaguchi at [email protected]