The Nissan Serena minivan is a huge hit among Japanese consumers. This relatively new model vaulted to the top of Japanese minivan sales in 2011 and Nissan claims the lead through the first seven months of 2012. Serena owners enjoy the spacious passenger seating along with high fuel economy offered by Nissan’s latest model. The Japanese automaker is taking the next step by offering the Serena S-HYBRID throughout Japan. The Serena S-HYBRID currently available in Japanese showrooms maintains the original’s commitment to comfort while venturing further into eco-friendly transportation.
The engineering team behind the Serena S-HYBRID did not want to reinvent the wheel. Nissan maintained the expansive cabin, versatile seating options and vehicle dimensions from the start. The S-HYBRID stands for smart or simple depending on the press release in question though either premise is attractive to consumers. Nissan enhances the ECO motor already used in the standard Serena, allowing a closer balance between gasoline and electric power. The motor and engine are compact enough to allow for a larger battery pack that provides for limited all-electric driving. This engineering feat does not seem Herculean but Nissan recognized that small changes could yield big dividends.
The Serena S-HYBRID provides good reason for Nissan to revisit the environmental bona fides of the traditional model. Nissan announced that future versions of the Serena will be outfitted with specialty tires designed to cut down rolling resistance and increase fuel economy. An Idling Stop system cuts down on fuel consumed during full stops and other occasions where the engine idles. Consumers concerned with safety will find rear seating rows equipped with Emergency Locking Retractor belts. Nissan is also committed to adding One-Touch Auto Slide Doors for select versions of the Serena.
Nissan cites environmental and financial benefits for consumers who choose the Serena S-HYBRID. A fuel economy rating of 35.8 miles per gallon for the two-wheel drive version qualifies for the top of the minivan class. This version of the Serena S-HYBRID is the only minivan sold in Japan that receives full exemptions for the country’s vehicle acquisition and weight levies. The aforementioned changes to Nissan’s traditional Serena units also reduce the upfront costs for new buyers. Standard models sold starting next year qualify buyers for 50% reductions in these taxes. A 75% reduction in vehicle taxes is available for buyers who select four-wheel drive units with the Idling Stop feature.
The global minivan market has barely been touched by the auto industry’s new focus on fuel efficiency. Nissan wants to expand this niche market beyond Japan in order to attract market share and leapfrog stronger automakers. The brand has already done well with trucks, sedans and the LEAF EV in North America and Europe. A global rollout of the Nissan Serena S-HYBRID coincides with the recent trend away from massive SUVs by families. The Serena S-HYBRID appears to be the ideal minivan for families searching for primary vehicles with high fuel economy, safety features and plenty of space. Nissan must model marketing efforts for the Serena S-HYBRID after the LEAF campaign, which has drawn considerable buzz even with limited availability.