LOS ANGELES -- Despite minimal sales, Nissan North America will continue selling its boxy, youth-oriented Cube crossover, the automaker's top U.S. sales executive says.
Nissan sold just 198 Cubes in October.
"It's a niche product that has found its place in the market," Brian Carolin, Nissan North America's senior vice president for sales and marketing, said in its defense at the Los Angeles Auto Show. "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 Cube, with a 1.8-liter engine, was released in 2009 as a competitor to the equally boxy Scion xB. In its first year, 21,471 Cubes were sold in the United States; and in its second, almost 23,000. In the first 10 months of this year, 13,850 were sold, partly because of production challenges following the March 11 Japan earthquake.
The Cube's entry price is $15,500, including shipping. Because it is imported from Japan, its modest margin has suffered from the rising value of the yen, which makes sales in dollars less valuable.
Nissan is currently offering no incentives on the Cube.
"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."