The idea with this improvised Sunday sermon is to take the opportunity presented by this Nissan QX, seen yesterday, to further underline the unsuccessful conclusion of Datsun/Nissan’s efforts to get customers to buy a large car, the kind discussed in this week’s Laurel article.
Some research reminded me that the Maxima is not really the direct heir to the Laurel crown. The Teana is. You probably knew that. The Laurel name died in 2002 and the Nissan Teana took up the baton thereafter. The Maxima’s roots go back to the 1980 Datsun 810 Maxima (as it was called in the US), a cousin of the Bluebird line. After the 1984 successor which was also a Bluebird relative, the Maxima ran on its own platform, moving up a class.
The 1988-1994 version seems to be its own car too. Which brings us to this car (above) which I had thought to be the last large Nissan saloon sold in the EU. It’s not: I had utterly forgotten the fifth generation of 1999. It wasn’t until 2003 that Nissan gave up on the large car market.
To be honest, I find the chronology of this car bewildering. Perhaps that is itself emblematic of a car so lacking in identity despite being so often quite good (see our previous writings). As I understand it, the Laurel nameplate was discontinued in Europe in 1989 and the Maxima took over despite being a successor to smaller Bluebird-related cars. And these Bluebirds are not to be confused with the UK-market Bluebird which was a successor to the smaller Nissan Violet also known as the Auster.
Are you now as lost as I am? It would seem appropriate to try to do a visual representation of this family tree but I won’t, not today.
It suffices to say that the tortuously convoluted genealogy of Nissan’s cars might be indicative of a chronic lack of consistency in Nissan’s product planning. Nissan sells approximately ten cars/carlike vehicles in the EU, none of which is a saloon. Their oldest nameplate is “Micra”, dating to 1982.
By way of contrast, BMW sells approximately thirteen cars/carlike vehicles and their oldest nameplate is the 5, dating to 1972 (the 3 dates to 1975). I could go on to look at other brands to see how old their oldest nameplates are but won’t. The point is that Nissan’s stable is made up of mostly new names. Further, the QX replaced the Maxima which replaced the Laurel yet the Maxima was a relative of the UK/EU Bluebird which supposedly replaced the medium-sized Violet. Is that not a car-crash of nameplates?
We get out of this one photograph the resultant insight that Nissan has had a hard time creating enduring nameplates for consistently managed, stable platforms.
Post-Script: I have actually embarked on making a graphic timeline of the Laurel/Maxima and it involves the Stanza, Bluebird and Primera as well.
Clearly, as with the Suzuki Ignis, the genealogy of these cars is not going to be understood in Platonic terms. An example of this would be that for BMW a 3-series is an idea materialised in successive set of iterations with clear commonality from model to to model and across the world. In contradistinction for Nissan there are medium, upper-medium and large classes whose roles are assumed by a variety of car bodies. There is no essential “Stanza”, no true “Bluebird”, nor a true “Maxima”.
I think only looking at the car body codes themselves would provide a clear time-line. The nameplates are almost meaningless designations, picked up and dropped as was convenient.
(Slide show credit: Wikipedia.org)
My plan to discuss this article about how rates of car ownership will suddenly decline has failed. That article quotes this one, from the Financial Times, Oct 2018: ” But while car ownership may be peaking — the Rocky Mountain Institute forecasts that annual personal US light-vehicle sales could fall from 17m today to 7m by 2035….”