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Nissan ends production of iconic compact car March for Japanese market

Courtesy of Nissan Motor Co.
The current and fourth-generation model of the March

Nissan Motor Co. will stop selling its March compact car in Japan. The current model is made in Thailand, but the automaker discontinued production for the Japanese market at the end of August, bringing down the curtain on 40 years of history. Nissan will focus its investment on hybrid and electric vehicles.

According to figures from the Japan Automobile Dealers Association, the March sold a total of 8,819 units in 2021, less than one-tenth of the sales of another Nissan compact car, the Note. The sales of the March have lagged far behind rivals such as Toyota Motor Corp.’s Yaris and Aqua, and Honda Motor Co.’s Fit.

Nissan has been shifting the focus of its compact car sales to the Note, and it is electrifying all of its models by installing its own hybrid system that uses an engine to generate electricity which then powers the motor.

The March has a smaller presence compared with minicars, which are very popular domestically. The automaker will stop selling the March once it runs out of stock.

Courtesy of Nissan Motor Co.
The first-generation model of the March

In some overseas markets, the March will continue to be sold as the Micra. In Europe, the automaker also plans to jointly develop and sell with Renault SA of France an EV that will be the successor to the Micra.

The March was born in October 1982. Its pursuit of user-friendliness and fuel efficiency attracted women and young people. The company has sold about 2.6 million units in total in Japan.

The second-generation model, which went on the market in 1992, won Car of the Year awards both in Japan and Europe.

When the fourth-generation model was launched in 2010, Nissan shifted production of vehicles for the domestic market from its Oppama plant in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, to Thailand because of lower costs. Under the leadership of former Chairperson Carlos Ghosn, the move was seen as symbolic of the trend of Japanese manufacturers shifting production bases overseas.

The March was positioned as a “global strategic vehicle” to be sold in 160 countries and regions, and in Japan the lowest price was less than ¥1 million.

Nissan plans to sell a total of 23 electrified models by fiscal 2030, including 15 EV models, and to increase the share of electrified vehicles sold globally to more than 50%. In June this year, the company began selling its first EV minicar in Japan.