Can this super car rev up Nissan?

Turnaround CEO Carlos Ghosn pins his hopes on an $85,000 revamped classic.

By Kevin Kelleher, Business 2.0 Magazine

(Business 2.0) -- Nissan has long lagged Toyota in sales. But in the world of high-performance racing cars, Japan's second-largest automaker leaves its rival in the dust.

That's thanks to the Skyline GT-R, which has been the hot rod of choice in Japan, with nearly 70,000 sold since 1990. In the United States, the car gained an underground following: Paul Walker drove one in the film 2 Fast 2 Furious, and 100 or so have been imported and adapted to meet U.S. safety standards during the past decade.

Now, Nissan is preparing a new-generation GT-R, to be sold in the United States in 2008.

CEO Carlos Ghosn, who's spent the past five years turning Nissan around, is hoping the GT-R will burnish his company's reputation for performance in the States, just as the 1990s version put Nissan on par with Ferrari and Porsche back home.

The rollout will start small, with word-of-mouth marketing and a few thousand cars, which people close to the company say will cost about $85,000.

A prototype unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2005 sported a sleek, aerodynamic design; the finished product is expected to preserve many of the car's legendary characteristics, like four-wheel drive and a customizable chassis.

Will its cult following make it a Stateside hit?


Will it work? Give us your take. Send your comments to;autos@cnn.comTop of page

The Experts Sound Off
In 1999 a lot of people thought it was just a matter of time before Nissan was for sale. Now it's clear the company's turning things around. The GT-R is Nissan's way of saying it's back, it's successful, and it has the resources to go after the upscale, high-performance end of the market.
Car enthusiast and investment banker
People spending $85,000 on a car are doctors, attorneys, and businessmen. They have more traditional values and probably more brand affinity. When you're talking about an $85,000 sports car, it seems to me you have a lot of competition. Porsche has been at this a lot longer than Nissan.
President, consulting firm Car Concepts
Every automaker wants to have a halo car. It doesn't always improve the brand. But in Nissan's case, I think it'll have a nice effect. Next year, instead of being down 10 or 12 percent, its sales will be up 30 percent. The GT-R will be coming out on the heels of those higher sales.

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