Nissan's head of planning, Philippe Klein, needs to determine which powertrains customers will want well into the future. While demand for diesels is declining in Europe in the small-car segments, Nissan decided that the automaker had to offer the powertrain again in its new-generation Micra subcompact to better compete against segment leaders such as the Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta. Klein explained why in an interview with Automotive News Europe Managing Editor Douglas A. Bolduc.
Unlike the old Micra, the new model will offer a diesel variant. Why bring the diesel back when demand for the powertrain is declining in Europe?
The brief of the fifth-generation Micra was to return to the heart of the B-segment (subcompact segment) in Europe to go head to head with cars such as the Volkswagen Polo and the Ford Fiesta. Diesel demand is declining but it remains important. Also, together with our alliance partner, Renault, we have all the powertrain technologies available to give this vehicle every possible chance to compete in the heart of the segment.
The diesel is hardly offered in the minicar (A) segment. Which customers are still asking for diesels in the subcompact (B) segment?
You have a big variety of usage of B-segment cars. Some of the customers are what I would call intense users. For them diesels still make sense.
Did Volkswagen Group's emissions-cheating scandal come up when discussing whether to give the Micra a diesel variant again?
Our discussions about the future of diesels started much earlier. Our focus was always on the cost of the technology versus its benefit to the end customer, which is what matters most.