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Future models - Nissan - Altima

Nissan leans on passenger cars

Passenger push: The Altima mid-size sedan is one of the key models in Nissan Australia's passenger car push in 2013.

Despite preparing for three new SUVs this year, Nissan expects growth from cars

Nissan logo6 Feb 2013

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

NISSAN says improving its passenger car line-up is the company’s main focus this year, despite the arrival of three all-new SUVs among at least 10 new models by the end of 2014.

With the new Pulsar sedan already in dealerships, the Pulsar hatch arrives mid-year and the all-new Altima four-door mid-sizer is due in the last quarter, the Japanese car-maker hopes these passenger vehicles will build on its impressive 17 per cent sales growth last year (79,747 units), in a market that rose 10 per cent.

The passenger vehicle newcomers will be augmented by the Patrol SUV launched this month, the Juke sub-compact SUV due in about October and the next-generation, Pathfinder, set to surface by the end of 2013.

In 2014, the third-generation X-Trail is due, followed closely the all-important Mk2 Dualis, which is one of Nissan Australia’s most promising performers. Its sales rose by almost 43 per cent last year.

As expected, the Altima sedan will kill off the 23-year-old Maxima nameplate, to put Nissan on a level footing against the leading Toyota Camry, Ford Mondeo and Mazda6 in the medium class.

12 center imageFrom top: Nissan Pulsar sedan Pulsar SSS hatch Juke Patrol Pathfinder.

This will be the first time since the demise of the Bluebird in 1997 that Nissan will have a traditional midsized sedan combatant.

Nissan marketing manager Peter Clissold told GoAuto that while he was unwilling to talk specifics, a sub-$30,000 starter for Altima would capture the attention of fleet buyers.

“It is a little too early to talk about pricing … but that is certainly the sweet spot in that segment,” he said. “There will be some appeal with fleets. It’s a dual segment with a (large) fleet component.”

If the two-door Altima Coupe out of the United States also makes it to Australia alongside its four-door sibling is unknown.

Asked about the possibilities, Mr Clissold reiterated that Nissan was prioritising getting its core mainstream passenger car models in alignment first.

"We'll see the sedan at this stage," he said. "But you can never say never, I suppose.

"(But) our plans right now are sedans … we are focused right now on Almera, Pulsar, and eventually the Altima sedan."Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Bill Peffer said Nissan would change the way new car buyers saw the company in 2013.

“We have very familiar recognition as a 4x4/commercial vehicle/SUV and truck provider in Australia,” he said.

“One of the things we are out to accomplish in our product renaissance is for the consideration in the passenger car segment – the passenger car segment B, C and D make up over 50 per cent of the total industry volume in Australia.

“So not only do we have to get an end-to-end solution for SUVs, but this is also the year for Nissan’s passenger cars.

“And things like Juke crosses over from SUV to car in that B segment. I don’t think customers go in to shop saying they are a ‘B segment SUV buyer’ or a ‘C segment car buyer’.

“Last calendar year we achieved nearly 80,000 cars with (a limited) passenger car product line-up.

“We are known for commercial trucks and 4x4s but we really haven’t been playing in all of the passenger car segments.

“We almost doubled what the industry did last year … and we are in a growth phase.

“How did we do that? We focussed more with our retail partners… we marketed with more marketing intensity … and we are swimming with new offerings.

“Now we’re at this crossroad with new product … and between now and the end of next year you will see 10 more new products … about one product every 2.5 months.

“New Pulsar hatch, Juke, Altima and Pathfinder will just be the start of our renaissance.”Nissan's launch schedule:
PatrolFebruary
Pulsar hatchJuly
AltimaQ4
PathfinderQ4
X-Trail2014
Dualis2014

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