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2006 Chicago Auto Show Bookmark

Nissan Quest Presentation

BRAD BRADSHAW

Vice President and General Manager

Nissan Division, Nissan North America, Inc.

Good afternoon and thanks for stopping by. 

In Detroit last month, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn made the statement that "Nissan is positioned to be a great car and truck company."

As evidence, he cited the addition in the 2007 model year of an all-new entry-level Versa and an all-new, larger, more powerful Sentra.  He also announced that the all-new 2007 Altima and new 2007 Maxima will debut at the upcoming New York Auto Show.

Today, we're here to preview another important piece of our product portfolio, the new, greatly refined 2007 Nissan Quest.

We also have on display here a special Titan concept, the Titan Onyx.  While we're aware that there's some other truck news coming out of the show this week, I'd like to remind you of a few facts about Titan.

When we launched Titan in 2003, it was the first true full-size import branded pickup.  Not only did Titan meet or exceed all of the existing standards in class for size, power and towing capacity, Titan's design set new standards for utility with innovations such as our Utili-track bed channel system and the King Cab's Wide-Open rear doors. 

Titan continues to deliver for Nissan.  It has helped enhance the brand and has expanded our customer base.  In a tough market, against much higher competitive incentives, Titan sales have remained strong - up 4% in 2005 to nearly 90,000 units.

We will continue to broaden the Titan lineup in the coming years, including diesels.  We'll also explore adding Titan special editions, along the lines of this Onyx Concept - which adds unique content and high visual impact.

This Titan Onyx Concept features an extensive list of modifications - including 20-inch wheels and tires, black interior accents and a unique grille and front valance.  I hope you'll take a closer look at it today.

Titan is a great example of Nissan's core product development philosophy, which we characterize as "SHIFT".

"SHIFT" means that Nissan does things differently for the sake of doing things better - and we've been extremely successful stretching the boundaries of car design and engineering innovation.

Occasionally, we stretch the envelope a little too far - and then we have to remind ourselves that different is better only if it actually produces a better result.

When we introduced the current generation Nissan Quest in mid-2003, it was revolutionary - offering a level of style and design that was unheard of in a category dominated by boxy passenger haulers.

Quest offered an appearance, inside and out, that was more architectural than austere, which, for some people, was a little discomforting.

We soon realized that the styling of the Quest was polarizing to some owners and potential buyers, primarily in the look of the interior and the instrument panel, in particular. 

We made the decision to fix it, rather than wait for the usual product cycle.  We hit it hard, with nothing off-limits and no detail unaddressed.

This new Quest represents the largest mid-cycle investment in Nissan history.  We changed hundreds of parts between the 2004 and 2007 models.

The results are pretty impressive.  The new Quest better meets the needs of the customers.  We've kept the positive aspects of the original design, while enhancing its desirability, as well as both actual and perceived quality levels.

Obviously we wouldn't make this kind of effort and investment if we didn't strongly believe in the viability of the minivan market.  As other manufacturers consider retreating in this segment in favor of crossovers or wagons, we see a strong, healthy market with plenty of room for vehicles like this new 2007 Quest.

There's one other thing involving Quest that we're very proud of.  Nissan has a strong record when it comes to females in key roles in the company.  The person responsible for Quest, our Chief Product Specialist, is a woman, as is the lead U.S. engineer.  Both are with us here today.  First, I'd like to introduce our Chief Product Specialist Tracey Matlock.

And now, to tell you a little more about what's new about Quest is Quest Assistant Chief Vehicle Engineer Carla Bailo.

CARLA BAILO

Assistant Chief Vehicle Engineer, Quest

Nissan Technical Center - Farmington Hills

Nissan North America, Inc.

Thanks, Brad and good afternoon. 

On the Quest development team, we talk a lot about Moms, especially Moms who picture themselves as more than a Mom - Moms that didn't give up their individuality or sense of adventure and style when they became Moms.

I guess I qualify as part of that group.  I'm the mother of four, and an engineer and one of my favorite "adventures" has been being part of the Quest project from the very beginning.

Since inception, minivans have had a stigma as being "Mom-mobiles."  On the Quest team, we don't fight it.  We add to it, embrace it, indulge it - paying as much as, or more, attention to the person behind the wheel as the passengers in the back seats.

One of the true competitive strengths of the Quest has always been the driving experience, which is even better for 2007 with its improved NVH isolation, refined ride quality, revised steering tuning and standard 5-speed automatic.

Quest also continues to offer a long list of available safety features.  And, Quest has available rear sonar, RearView Monitor and Michelin PAX run-flat tires.

Along with its high levels of performance, safety and security, the 2007 Quest continues other highly positive elements of the original, including the stylish body design and items such as the wide-opening side doors and the innovative SkyView glass-paneled roof.

The exterior changes, including the new grille, lights, wheels and chrome accents, greatly enhance Quest's sporty style - without lessening its strong individual character.

The heart of the new 2007 Quest, of course, is the revised interior.

The new instrument panel moves the gauges in front of the driver. 

-         We've changed the location of the DVD changer

-         Moved and refined the in-dash information display screen

-         Revised the upper console and incorporated the rear HVAC controls there

-         Enlarged the glove compartment

-         Added chrome or wood-style accents

-         And changed the knobs

We also added an available fixed center console with large storage areas and a hidden compartment between the front seats.

In the rear of the Quest, we still offer fold-down 2nd and 3rd row seating, but have given the whole area a softer look and feel, and added 2nd row headrest articulation to ease folding.

We're also bringing something new to the minivan segment - the convenience of automatic, fold-down, integrated 3rd row headrests.  And, we've added a strong spring-assist, so putting the 3rd row seat down is essentially a simple, one-hand, three-step operation.

The Quest interior is now a synergy of design and function.  The roomiest interior in class is still easily the most stylish, and now it's even more flexible.

Quest's original breakthrough style, versatility and performance are stronger than ever.

The final topic I'd like to address today is quality.

The opportunity to rethink the Quest at mid-cycle also offered a unique chance to look closely at our development processes.

Given that we set high goals and high expectations for the new Quest within a very short schedule, we initiated some major changes in how we interact as designers, engineers, suppliers and manufacturers.

To change the product, we changed the process, bringing the group together in one room for nine months at our Farmington Hills, Michigan Tech Center. 

We acted as one team, we spoke with one voice.  We eliminated delays in feedback.  Design and quality reviews were held on a daily basis.

We made sure we corrected potential problems before they reached the first build process.  We changed, in essence, the whole strategy of the design process - as well as our standards.

Our obsession with quality led us, for example, to improve the smoothness of the maps light switches, and to redesign the pillar and door trim to reduce the visible component parting lines. 

At the end of the nine months together, we discovered that the culmination of thousands of small changes can add up to more than a pretty impressive end product. 

We improved the Quest and our way of doing business and brought a higher quality product to this important minivan segment.

I'm pleased that we have with us today Doug Betts, Nissan's Vice President, Product Quality.  Doug can provide more specific details regarding Quest quality enhancements for those who are interested.

I've covered about three years of my life in just a few minutes.  We say that "Life happens in a Quest" and in my case it certainly is true.

Minivan ownership, probably more than any other type of vehicle ownership, is an experiential thing.  Now I hope you'll come up on stage and experience the new 2007 Nissan Quest for yourselves.

Thank you.

 

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