Nissan adds Rogue hybrid as part of refreshed model line
NASHVILLE -- Nissan will launch a hybrid version of its newly freshened 2017 compact Rogue crossover this fall in hopes of broadening the nameplate’s market.
The automaker is capitalizing on one of its hottest products by creating more variants as the entire crossover segment booms. The addition will put Rogue into fuller competition with rival Toyota, which offers a hybrid version of its RAV4 crossover.
Nissan North America Chairman Jose Munoz unveiled the new Rogue variation at the Miami auto show Friday night.
Phil O’Connor, Nissan’s director and chief marketing manager for trucks, said the additional powertrain will widen the Rogue’s appeal.
“The segment is growing, and the more variation you can offer, the better,” he said.
The hybrid version is part of a mid-cycle freshen of the Rogue that will see Nissan create more upscale cues for the vehicle. The vehicle will reach showrooms in mid-November with a restyled front end and headlights, a revised center console, a D-shaped steering wheel and an array of available features that includes motion-activated liftgate, forward emergency braking, heated steering wheel, driver’s seats and mirror memory and remote engine start.
In addition to offering a hybrid, Nissan has touched up the overall looks of the Rogue for 2017 to appear slightly more truck-like and masculine.
Nissan has sold 215,160 Rogues through the end of August, an increase of 14 percent over the same period last year. The model is now coming to U.S. retailers from three factories in Tennessee, South Korea and Japan.
August sales serve as a barometer of what Nissan sees in the Rogue’s potential: The crossover sold 32,979 units for the month, a gain of 19 percent. By contrast, Nissan’s traditional brand-leading product, the Altima sedan, declined 39 percent in August to 19,646 sales.
“This is a substantial refresh that will give us additional momentum to grow our share,” O’Connor said of the entire Rogue line.
The hybrid powertrain mates a 2.0-liter 16-valve DOHC aluminum-alloy inline 4-cylinder engine with a lithium-ion battery, with net power of 176 hp.
The system uses a 30 kW electric motor that is rated at 40 hp and 118 lb-ft of torque.
Hybrid sales in general around the industry have been in the doldrums, due to sharply lower fuel prices this year. Sales of the industry’s most popular hybrid model, the Toyota Prius, are down 26 percent through the end of August to 93,083.
But Nissan is viewing the Rogue Hybrid differently, company officials say. The hybrid version is intended as an alternative version of the popular model, bringing one more buying group to Rogue sales.
“We think there’s demand for a hybrid in this segment,” O’Connor says of compact crossovers in general. “It’s a big enough segment now that even if you only achieve a small percent of market share, it will be a pretty good volume because there are so many customers looking.
“It still makes business sense to compete with a hybrid even in the current climate today.”
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