Nissan Invitation Concept Subcompact Live Gallery: 2012 Geneva Motor Show

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2012 Nissan Invitation Concept

2012 Nissan Invitation Concept

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Sometimes at an international auto show, a new concept car is unveiled that is truly stunning -- but is unlikely to ever make it to the U.S.

We call them Forbidden Fruit. Like most Forbidden Fruit, we feel sad when we can’t take them home. 

That’s how Nissan’s latest concept subcompact -- the Invitation -- leaves us feeling. 

Unveiled today at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, the B-segment Invitation occupies the same class as the 2012 Nissan Juke, but combines sporty looks with a classic hot hatch form factor.

Fitting into the increasingly competitive subcompact hatchback segment, the Invitation is a direct competitor to cars like the 2012 Ford Fiesta, 2012 Toyota Yaris, 2012 Chevrolet Sonic and 2012 Hyundai Accent.

With narrow, sweeping headlights and a sporty front spoiler, the Nissan Invitation concept reminds us a little of a sleeker, more sporty Honda Fit. 

However, Nissan is keen to point out that the Invitation isn’t just about looks. 

Built on Nissan’s new light-weight V-platform, the Nissan Invitation is expected to deliver class-leading gas mileage. While Nissan hasn’t detailed just how good it expects the Invitation’s fuel economy to be, we think that equates to a figure of well over 40 mpg. 

Why are we covering a car that we don’t think will ever head to the U.S?

There might be hope. 

Some time this year, Nissan is expected to unveil its new Versa hatchback for the U.S. market. Like the Invitation, it too will be built on Nissan’s new lightweight B-segment platform. 

Could this be the new Versa, but by another name? Or could Nissan incorporate some of the Innovation's design stylings or underpinnings in a the new Versa?

Either way, we really hope so.


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Comments (7)
  1. This shouldn't be forbidden fruit, this is how the Leaf should have looked. Since the Leaf isn't selling in the sort of numbers that could warrant the 150K production capacity Nissan is developing for it in Smyrna TN or the $1.6 billion of government money Nissan borrowed for this retooling under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) Loan Program, maybe this could be developed in a high MPG vehicle that fits the ATVM requirements.

  2. @Chris O: For the record, Nissan was awarded $1.6 billion but only used $1.4 billion of it to build the Li-ion cell fabrication plant in Smyrna and add Leaf production (starting early 2013) to the adjacent assembly plant.

  3. Thanks for correcting that John, guess my number was 12.5% off than...Still seems like an awful lot of money to invest in a car that only sells a few hundred units a month in the US. Wonder what Nissan will come up with to turn things around.

  4. @Chris O: Depends on how you define "a few hundred", really. I'd define "a few hundred" as less than 500 (perhaps 200 or 300), and that's not quite accurate.

    Nissan sold 9,674 Leafs in 2011, or ~ 800 a month, and it's sold 1,154 in Jan-Feb, or ~ 600 per month.

  5. @Chris O: I'd also add that those sales came from far less than all 50 states. Nissan will have rolled out the Leaf to the whole country by the end of the year, though I'm not expecting substantial sales from states like ND. I'd expect 15,000 to 20,000 Leaf sales for 2012 as a whole.

    The test will come in mid-2012, when those Leafs start coming off the Smyrna lines in volume. Then we'll find out if U.S. buyers have an appetite for 5,000-8,000 electric vehicles a month.

    Note that Nissan will do at least some refreshing of the Leaf for the U.S. models (a 6.6-kW onboard charger, for instance). Many wonder whether Nissan will also cut the price, which would undoubtedly boost sales somewhat.

  6. The Smyrna investment certainly suggests Nissan believed once there would be a market for 5-8K Leafs a month in the US. Reality is though that Leaf sales peaked in June 2011 at about 1700 units and have shown a (general)downward trend since dropping below 500 in February 2012. National roll out should create a new peak, but we need not kid ourselves: there is a real problem here a better charger (though very good in itself!) is not going to solve.

  7. It is good the hear John Voelcker's continued optimism for the LEAF. Between the 5 week shutdown for the Volt and the terrible February sales figures for the LEAF, my optimism for EVs is just about shot.

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