The Nissan Cube is a Mini MPV produced by Nissan for the Japanese market since 1998, and now sold in export markets such as North America and Europe.
The first generation of the Cube (designated Z10) was introduced in 1998. It shared the same platform as the Nissan Micra (known as the March in Japan and Southeast Asia), as well as the same 1.3 L engine. A CVT gearbox and four-wheel drive were optional. The Cube covered the gap in the Nissan lineup between the March and the Sunny. The first generation was sold only in Japan, though privately exported to United Kingdom, Australia and Hong Kong.
The second generation of the Cube, released in 2002 with a larger interior than the previous model. The combination of angled and curved surfaces was based on the third generation of the March, powered by a 1.4 L I4 engine. The model included the "e4WD" system as an option, which transfers power to the rear wheels when the front wheels spin via a small electric motor on the rear underside of the floor. The electrically powered system allows for reduced drivetrain drag when only driving in FWD mode.
In 2008, Nissan revealed the Nissan Denki (Japanese for “electric”) Cube Concept. Making its debut at the March 2008 New York International Auto Show, the Denki Cube Concept is a lithium-ion battery-powered electric vehicle. Nissan’s compact lithium-ion battery technology provides batteries with twice as much energy compared with a conventional cylindrical battery of the same type.
The Denki Cube Concept also serves as a preview of Nissan’s future plans to sell a redesigned gasoline-powered (would be a new generation) Cube at Nissan dealers in the United States and Canada beginning in 2009 (called Nissan EV). Prototypes have been test driven by journalists and reports published in spring 2009.
The third generation Nissan Cube was revealed for the first time at the Los Angeles International Auto Show, on November 19, 2008. While this is the third generation of the vehicle, it is being offered for export markets, including European and North American markets, for the first time. The Cube went on sale in Japan on November 19, 2008 and the U.S. on May 5, 2009.