03/28/2008 02:45 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Nissan Unveils Small Car Prototypes

At a top-secret session on car designs at a Nissan Motor Co. technical center, chief product strategist Carlos Tavares recited the company's ambitious new mission: to sell an expensive-looking small car for the price of no-frills models -- and somehow make a profit on it.

Engineers, grappling with this task for a year, presented seven drawing-board variations of a small car with a stylish, rocket-shaped body and oval headlights reminiscent of marquise-cut diamonds. But the designs just weren't cheap enough to make, said Mr. Tavares. "All of this is costly," he grumbled. "We still have a lot of work to do."

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