Cars are eminently practical. They are built to transport people and their stuff from point A to point B, so it shouldn't be a surprise that most automobiles end up being bland, beige, appliances.
That's a big part of why I love cars that are almost needlessly, hopelessly weird. Some days I am weighed down by the sight of yet another Corolla, or yet another Suburban, or yet another Rogue driving by. It's on those days that I feel like I need to mainline Citroens and Zagatos and Sbarros and anything other car that's just plain odd, if only to free me from the sameness of everything else on the road.
I get a little extreme with my taste for weird cars, but while we were talking about the Nissan Cube, AbarthGuy pointed out that the need for something different in the car world isn't just about finding etceterini in weird corners of the Internet. It's about the real cars people buy. It's also about cars that may or may not have pubes.
Having had Nissan Cubes in my company fleet before, I too have wrestled with this question:
Shag carpeting on the dash, WHY ARE YOU A THING?!?
It wont secure your personal items like a cheap-o $5 AutoZone sticky mat, and it's secured (I use the term loosely, get it?) with double stick foam tape. I've pondered over this for months. Practice rug for aspiring beauticians? No, too short. Special "Adult Film" star edition with just a little patch left on the dash? No, too thick. Special nesting carpet for cat owners? No, no one likes people that take their cats with them. The closest I came to having an answer was this: perhaps it's calming carpet for club-goers to rub and calm themselves with after ingesting too many "party favors" while raving in one of Tokyo's more fashionable districts.
What are your guesses?
Doug DeMuro replied.
Nissan truly claims it's for aesthetic purposes. You have to remember the Cube itself is just bizarre. The shag carpeting is just one of many, many bizarre things about it.
As you mentioned elsewhere, there is also the much under-hyped ripple head liner, the asymmetric rear glass (which I actually like), and the larger than-the-Eldorado's front windows (they are like big picture windows, honestly!).
As a former Rental Car District Manager-come-FIAT dealership manager, despite all it's gimmicks, I will openly admit to liking the Cube for it's dare to be different approach. I'd rather see this on the road than one more milquetoast midsized family hauler or CUV (the C stands for Clone). Different is good, different moves the market. Was the Cube built for Japanese Millenials? Yup. Did it fail to catch on with Western Millenials? Yup. Is it exactly the type of car empty-nesters think is cool? Yup. It sold, is that a problem? Nope.
In my new line of work, the hardest obstacle for me to overcome was the realization that the bulk of the driving population has been bred to view the automobile as an appliance, not as a piece of lifestyle equipment.
That said, I now embrace my product and position as an "Ambassador of Unique". As it stands, the B/C segment is all relatively comparitve: Price, Performance, Economy, and Reliability are all very similar across the spectrum. Generally speaking, the segment resides between 29 and 34 average MPG, $15k-$18k starting price, 1.4L-2.0L between 100 & 150 bhp, and similar warranties. Rather than berate clients for cross-shopping Corollas and Cobalts, I ask them a series of question to make them comfortable in addressing their wants over their needs, since most choices will fill most (or all) of their needs. "Does it make you smile?" "Did you enjoy driving it?" "Do you think others will smile when they it?", etc. Our market is finally in a place where we can indulge the left hemisphere of our brains.
I deeply adore weird cars, from Bosozuku Nissans to Rinspeed Porsches, but do you think the car buying public could finally accept more unconventional cars, now that just about everything on the market is reasonably safe, reliable, and efficient?
Photo Credit: Nissan