The new Rogue Sport small compact isn’t precludingfrom going smaller still in the CUV sector.
Nissan's Kicks (shown front during Rio Olympics) still studied for U.S.
DETROIT – With CUV sales exploding in the U.S, up 7.7% last year to 5.6 million, manufacturers are seeing lots of opportunities to fill niches.
is no exception. While it unveiled the Rogue Sport, a smaller Rogue compact CUV this morning at the 2017 North American International Auto Show here, the Rogue Sport, it still is studying a B-platform model, as well as exploring an A-segment CUV.
“We believe below Rogue Sport there’s even more space,” Michael Bunce, vice president-product planning forNorth America, tells WardsAuto in an interview.
As WardsAuto first reported last year, Bunce says a U.S. version of Nissan’s Kicks B-CUV from Brazil is under consideration, and an even-smaller CUV “certainly is something we’re noodling and looking at.”
While a subcompact CUV competing with the likes of theHR-V and Jeep Renegade is a more likely candidate for production, Nissan is mulling an A-segment model cautiously.
“We don’t want to oversaturate (the market) either,” Bunce says. “We have to be cognizant of our resources, to give the consumer the right product as opposed to trying to do too many segments.”
Nissan’s Korean rivalsaid last year it is exploring a potential A-segment CUV for the U.S. and Lexus has shown an A-segment CUV concept, the LF-SA.
With the Rogue, Rogue Sport and a potential B-segment model, Bunce acknowledges Nissan’s CUV pricing will be tight, with the models stickering within a couple thousand dollars of each other. However, Nissan is unconcerned about cannibalization to any significant extent.
“There will always be some natural cannibalization, some overlap in price point,” Bunce says. “Rogue Sport is not about taking customers today that are buying Rogue and putting them in a Rogue Sport. Rogue Sport is about (bringing in new customers).”
He admits some buyers, who have not had a smaller vehicle to choose from, will migrate to the new model, but “we see it truly as an incremental customer.”
Bunce won’t say if a new subcompact CUV spells the demise of the Juke. On sale since 2010 in the U.S., it was one of the first small CUVs available here.
However, he says reports of its death are premature. “Juke will stay. Juke has been a very successful niche vehicle. It’s a very high-performance kind of car-crossover hybrid. It competes in the space of (’s Mini) John Cooper Works (sub-brand) with the Nismo variants. It’s been a great car for our portfolio.”
Juke sales fell 27.8% in the U.S. last year to 19,577, making it one of the lowest-volume models in WardsAuto’s Small CUV group. The Rogue, on the other hand, was the third-best-seller behind the No.1CR-V and No.2 RAV4 in the Middle CUV sector with 329,904 sales, up 14.9%. Its volume made it Nissan’s No.1-seller for 2016, outranking the midsize Altima sedan.