Not dead: Nissan Z

Nissan says they are working on keeping it alive.

Nissan is reportedly working on a next-generation Z-car, even despite a shrinking mid-range sports car market and increasing regulations that make such a car difficult.

The current Nissan 370Z has been on the market since model year 2009, making it nearly a decade old. It has been largely thought that the current generation, the sixth, would be the last of the venerable sports car. However, Nissan chief planning officer Philippe Klein told Automotive News at the Detroit Auto Show that, "We're working on it and it's very present."

Klein admitted that the market for a car like the Z is "shrinking worldwide." However, Klein says, "We still believe there is a place for the Z and we want to keep it alive, and that's what we're working on."

Klein indicated that the car could be a redesign rather than a completely new vehicle, calling it a "midterm" solution. "For the long term," he added, "If we do a complete new vehicle, what should it be to keep the passion alive? And we're working very seriously on this — how we can keep the Z alive and refreshing and what would be the next generation?"

The Z was introduced in Japan in 1969 as Nissan's first fixed-head sports car. It was sold as the Datsun 240Z in the US starting with the 1970 model year. It was hugely popular among enthusiasts, collectors and racers, and helped burnish Nissan's reputation globally as a serious automaker.

It was sold in the US until 1996, when the SUV shifted market trends away from sports cars like the 300ZX. It was revived again as the 350Z in 2002, so there is precedence for a rebirth. Klein said that he could not provide a timeline for when the Z would reemerge.

Read more!