Nissan Almost Killed The Maxima In 2011

Things are looking good for the all-new 2016 Nissan Maxima, the automaker’s longest-selling nameplate in the United States.

Now in its eighth-generation, the Maxima is expected to return big sales to Nissan. However, just four years ago, the Japanese carmaker was planning to kill the nameplate.

At the time, the industry was recovering from recession and buying trends were towards compacts with small engines, as high fuel prices were scaring consumers.

Manufacturers were therefore shifting resources to compact, subcompact and even minicars, and Nissan made no exception. The automaker contemplated killing the Maxima, but another possibility was toning down the model. Fortunately, neither path was chosen.

“A lot of people assume it was a forgone conclusion that, of course we will continue with another Maxima. But frankly, the forgone conclusion at that moment was that there would not be another Maxima,” Pierre Loing, vice president of North American product planning, told Automotive News.

However, in early 2012 Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn gave the project the green light. “When I look at this car, I’m proudest of the fact that it’s here at all. And on top of that, I’m proud of that fact that we took the Maxima beyond where it was, instead of taking it backward,” said Takeshi Yamaguchi, who was Nissan North America’s vice president for vehicle engineering and vehicle program management for the project.

Loing said there were big reasons to fight for the Maxima. Introduced in 1981, it’s Nissan’s longest-selling nameplate in the United States and has a multi-generational fan base. The car even has better name recognition than the Nissan brand itself, the executive added.

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