NEW YORK -- The days of finding a new car for under $10,000 are officially over.
Nissan North America Inc. plans to drop the stripped-down version of its Versa sedan that had an advertised sticker price of $9,990 -- the lowest on the market at the moment.
At the New York auto show, Nissan unveiled a redesigned version of the sedan for 2012. That means the special economy version -- with a 1.6-liter engine, manual transmission, roll-down windows and no air conditioning -- is history.
Nissan's Web site is already pitching the 2012 model, with a sticker price of $10,990, plus delivery.
Nissan came up with the sub-$10,000 model when the economy crashed in late 2008 and the auto industry was scrambling to hang on to customers.
But the price was always somewhat theoretical. As with all new cars, customers who bought the model had to pay the standard dealer destination charge, which bumped its real price to $10,740.
Larry Dominique, Nissan North America vice president of product planning, says the budget version of the Versa resonated with some consumers as the economy recuperated. But he says the new Versa sedan is a better deal.
"You could opt to get the base model with air conditioning and the price increased to about $10,900," Dominique says. "The new Versa, with air conditioning, new styling, an improved interior, 15-inch wheels and five miles per gallon better fuel economy, sells for about that same price." The 2012 Versa has an EPA rating of 30 mpg city/37 highway.
Dominique says the hot button for consumers has changed. "As the economy comes back and fuel prices increase," he says, "there's a new issue buzzing in people's heads, and that's fuel economy."