Nissan Canada Inc. is bringing the subcompact Micra back to the Canadian market and, in an unusual twist for auto makers selling vehicles in North America, the car will not be sold in the United States.
The Canadian unit of the Japan-based auto maker said in Montreal on Thursday that it will begin selling the car here this spring, in part as a bid to maintain momentum after a record sales performance in Canada in 2013.
"Micra makes unique sense for Canada over the U.S.," said Tim Franklin, Nissan Canada's senior manager of product planning.
"We've worked hard over the last year to develop the business case and appropriate features and content for Canada. It's the Canadian mindset, how Canadians use their cars, the economic realities in Canada and even the more Euro-centric mindset of Canadians."
Hatchback cars, for example, are popular with Canadians, but have never reached a similar level of sales in the U.S. market.
The plan to add a new subcompact to the existing Nissan lineup of Versa cars in the segment comes as subcompact sales overall stagnate amid steady gas prices and growth of the compact crossover segment.
Nissan already offers the Versa Note hatchback in the subcompact segment, but the Micra will have a lower manufacturer's suggested retail price. The price of the Micra will be released at a later date. The Versa Note starts at $13,348 with manual transmission.
The Micra will also have different features than the Versa Note and features available in Canada that are not available on Micras in the 160 other markets around the world where it is sold now. Those include rear heater ducts and heated side mirrors.
Micra is an entry-level car that is aimed at new Canadians, used-car buyers and graduates, said Andrew Wilton, Nissan Canada's marketing manager for small and mid-sized cars.
"The needs for those consumers are going to be different from what we have currently in the Versa Note," Mr. Wilton said.
The Nissan Canada executives said the Versa Note holds about 15 per cent to 20 per cent of subcompact sales and the Micra will boost that to a 25 per cent to 30 per cent share.
The car will be imported from Mexico, which means it's not subject to the 6.1 per cent tariff on vehicles imported from outside North America, so it can be competitively priced in the subcompact segment, where profit margins are thin.
Nissan Canada sold the car in the 1985-1991 model years.
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