Nissan continued its drip feed of electric vehicle (EV) news this week with the announcement of its EV platform under a Tiida (Versa) body shell. Be still thy beating heart, all will be revealed on Sunday in Yokohama when the first car to be mounted atop aforesaid platform finally breaks cover.

It’ll be interesting to look back in a decade or two hence, (hopefully, in my case, from a sun-drenched villa on climate-changed Britain’s south-west coast, looking out over the orange and olive groves), and see if Shiga-san’s image of  a new age when cars will be running on zero-emissions, and “a new auto industry with the EVS“, has dawned yet. More likely, EVs will do 300 miles on a cell full of electrons by then but it’ll still be cold and raining, and petrol will cost GBP10 a litre…

Speaking of hype, a couple of years ago, Suzuki promised us an all-new D-segment car based on the Kizashi concept line it was hawking around motor shows at the time. With engines up to 3.6 litres, the second version for Tokyo ’07 looked really interesting – something like a cross between Opel’s Signum, Chrysler‘s 300C wagon and steroids.

The reality, launched in the US this week, looked more like a rebadged, previous generation GM-Daewoo Chevrolet. Which is what I thought it was (Suzuki has previously done this for North America) when I first saw the photos. Look more closely, and you find a slightly more original, in-house effort, with Subaru-rivalling, optional four-wheel drive even, but there’s nothing in the styling, or the copy-the-competition symmetrical dashboard, to distinguish it from the established pack. From the company that brought us the cute little Jimny (are you old enough to remember the two-stroke engine?) and started off the small SUV segment (Vitara), this is a disappointingly bland, ‘me-too’ effort. Why buy this from a tiny importer with a thinly-spread dealer network when you can have much the same thing from Ford, Chevrolet, Honda, Hyundai, Chrysler, Toyota, et al?

An automaker with US sales off 60% to date, and with its half of a Canadian JV assembly plant closed for the duration, needs a Nissan Qashqai-like segment-busting hit, not another, yawn-inducing four-door sedan.

Financial results continued to roll in, good and bad. In the spirit of Fox News, we report and let you decide but, once in a while, we let our own R Golding off the leash to praise and, er, not praise (EVs to the rescue, perhaps?).

Rumours continued to surround the proposed sale of Opel to Magna or RHJ. This report suggested more UK job losses than hoped and then GM’s chief negotiator weighed in with a blog that denied some of the recent media claims and made it clear parts of Magna’s bid were impossible for GM but did not replace rumour with many more facts than we already knew. Bottom line: the lawyers and accountants are still talking.

Japan’s auto industry reported horrendous falls in output and export shipments but there was a glimmer of light – the night shift’s going back on at Kanto Auto Works. Here in Europe we like our Yaris with a door on the back; Japanese, Asian and US buyers like their little Belta of a car with a boot (or trunk) and names like Vios.

Have a nice weekend.

Graeme Roberts
Deputy/News Editor