Why the Nissan Cube tanked in the West

Here’s a house in Miyazaki, Japan, designed for a family of four. Few Westerners would buy this house. You see lots of houses like this throughout Japan

Here’s a picture I took in 2010, somewhere in rural Japan, of a Nissan Cube outside a cuboid house:

And here are 2 pics of the wonderful Nissan Cube:

The Cube sold well in Japan, and was sold there for over 20 years, between 1998 and 2019. In Europe, it was sold for a mere 2 years, between 2009 and 2011, and Nissan pulled it from the European market, due to very poor sales. It didn’t fare much better in the US, being sold there merely between 2009 and 2014.

Pretty much every Western person I ever met hated the way Nissan Cube looked.  They had never driven it, so had no idea about how it actually drove.  But they were adamant that they never would even try it.

It appalled Westerners.   

The French (in my experience) were least inclined to be critical, perhaps due to their tradition of making proudly-utilitarian cars (Citroen 2CV, Renault 4, etc). In terms of design ethos, the Renault 4 (surely the ultimate holiday home runaround!) predated the Cube by nearly 40 years:

Renault 4

Dig deeper, and it’s simple snobbery at work. 

Square, boxy, lines are both utilitarian and very down to earth. 

They do not project wealth, trendiness, or power.

The fact that they are useful and pleasant to be in is irrelevant. 

We’re all living exemplars of Sartrean bad faith. 

We’ve too much status-anxiety to embrace a Cube.

The Japanese, with the culture of humility, have no such mental blocks.

More fool us. 

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