The Thai government created an eco-car program in 2009 that encourages automakers to develop vehicles with low emissions and high fuel economy. The eco-car label is applied to any vehicle built in Thailand that achieves a fuel economy rating over 47 miles per gallon and emissions lower than 120 grams per kilometer. Nissan’s Thailand subsidiary recently released the Almera sedan, which is the first sedan to qualify for the eco-car label. The Nissan Almera follows in the footsteps of the March hatchback released in 2010.
Nissan Motors developed the March as well as the Almera as part of the NMT Power Up 2016 strategy. This document sets fuel economy, emissions and production goals in Southeast Asia over the next five years. Designers used a V-frame and lightweight materials to increase fuel efficiency above 47 MPG in the Almera. The drive system is powered by a 1.2-liter gas engine with a five-speed manual or XTRONIC continuously variable transmission. The Nissan Almera will be produced in Samutprakarn with six makes and colors available to Thai consumers at a retail price starting from $13,879.
The Nissan March represented the automaker’s first eco-friendly vehicle in the Thai market. This hatchback was popular over the past year with an estimated 28,000 units sold since March 2010. This figure should reach 50,000 units by the end of 2011, which exceeds Nissan’s expectations by at least 10%. The March received recognition from Thai automotive organizations including the Most Environmentally Friendly Car of the Year and the Best Passenger Car under 1200cc in 2010. Nissan used the V-frame, components and drive system from the March when developing the Almera.
The eco-car label developed in Thailand shows that perfecting the traditional sedan is a realistic path to lower emissions and fuel consumption around the world. Thailand is similar to nations from Asia to Europe in lacking infrastructure for mass adoptions of plug-in vehicles. The Thai market also shares problems of urban density, congested traffic and growing vehicle adoption with regional powers. Nissan could beat out the competition for Thai consumers by jumping early into the eco-car fray. The March and the Almera provide diverse options for Thai consumers while keeping fuel costs low for workers.