The golden era of coupes racing towards the million-sales mark are over, and Nissan knows the new Z is only going to sell in modest numbers.
Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan chief designer, had a blunt answer when asked if people are still passionate about two-door sports cars. “Generally no,” he said.
Mr Albaisa said there are 1.5 million Nissan Z owners out there already. If that grows by even one per cent, the brand will be sold out of the new model.
In other words, the Z won’t be a long-term volume-seller for Nissan.
As such, “the reality is that this [car] is probably going to people who probably had Zs, and they’re very curious because the engine is tremendous”.
Last year, Nissan only managed to shift 1955 examples of the 370Z in the USA, and 109 in Australia.
In 2009 and 2010, the car’s first two years on sale, Nissan sold 13,117 and 10,215 examples of the coupe Stateside. It debuted during 2009 in Australia, but its first full year on sale was 2010 when Nissan sold 745 examples (and eight 350Zs).
Sports cars typically sell best after launch, with numbers dropping dramatically as the years wear on.
As we’ve learnt already, the new Z was developed primarily with existing fans and previous owners in mind.
Hiroshi Tamura, chief product planner for the Z, said the new car was “icon” for the brand and the “soul” of the company.
Nissan’s caution is in stark contrast to Lexus, which boldly predicted it would sell around 5000 examples of the LC every year when it launched the high-end coupe in 2017.
By then, the tide had already run out on mainstream coupes.
With volume brands largely having left the coupe scene, the majority of two-doors on sale today are from luxury marques.