DETROIT – Nissan Motor Co. will return to the Detroit auto show in 2012 after a three-year absence.
Nissan Americas Chairman Carlos Tavares made the pledge in a statement issued by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association on Sunday.
“The amount of new product serves as the direction for the world's economic future. This, in addition to the unique audiences this show gathers, makes Nissan proud to say it will be returning to NAIAS as an exhibitor in 2012,” he said in the statement released by Detroit auto show organizers. “It is an excellent forum for us to place a spotlight on products that will be carrying us all into the future.”
Nissan, the No. 5 auto brand in the United States, has been notably absent from the high-profile event. Nissan's luxury brand Infiniti has also skipped the show for three years.
The automaker announced in November 2008 it was pulling out of the Detroit show as the American economy crashed and companies scrambled to conserve cash. Other automakers – notably Porsche, Mitsubishi and Suzuki – have also withdrawn from the show in recent years. Porsche is returning this year for the first time since 2007.
Nissan also withdrew from other auto shows, saying it planned to shift its marketing dollars to more cost-effective events. The decision was made before Tavares took his post as chairman of the Americas.
But Nissan has stayed out of Detroit since then, despite a healthy bottom line and a flurry of new U.S. products. Just two months ago, Nissan unveiled two new products at the Los Angeles auto show – a new generation Quest minivan and a convertible version of the Murano crossover. It also introduced the Ellure concept car, a design study that indicates Nissan's direction for future sedans.
Nissan is in the midst of one of the most daring product launches in its history – the introduction of the all-electric Leaf family car. The vehicle went on sale in very small volumes last month. Nissan is spending $1.8 billion to tool up to build the car and related battery modules in the United States starting in 2012.
The company is not displaying products at this year's Detroit show, but company officials are attending the event, meeting with dealers and conducting interviews with the media during the show, away from the exhibition floor.
“We've successfully weathered the worst crisis in the history of our industry,” Tavares was scheduled to tell automotive analyst audience. “We're launching new product and our business is growing throughout the Americas region and globally.”