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Market Insight: New models aim to halt Nissan slide

Crucial: New models such as the Qashqai (left) and X-Trail (below) will be pivotal in seeing Nissan increase its market share.

Fresh Qashqai and all-new X-Trail, 400Z to buoy Nissan and lift market share


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14 Dec 2020

NISSAN hopes for a better year in 2021 with an all-new Qashqai providing the foundation for the recently revamped Juke and next year’s Qashqai and X-Trail.


Market share for the brand has slipped this year, attributed to COVID but also to a very competitive group of rivals with a plethora of new models. Nissan now commands a 4.2 per cent market share to the end of November, down from 4.8 per cent at the same time in 2019.


Looking back to 2015, Nissan had a 5.7 per cent share in an era when Holden was an aggressive player with an 8.9 per cent market share and 17 models to nibble at Nissan’s portfolio.


In that year, Nissan also had 19 models including nine passenger cars with long-gone names like Pulsar, Tiida, Almira, Altima, Maxima and Micra.


It now has 10 models and three passenger cars – though the Leaf is technically the only family car as the other two, the 370Z and GT-R, are coupes.


The health of the brand relies on SUVs and utes, with top sellers this year to date being the X-Trail (12,469 sales), Navara 4x4 ute (8719) and Qashqai (6432).


The new Qashqai, here in the second half of 2021, will undoubtedly be tasked with boosting sales and market share. It has a 7.5 per cent share in the small SUV sector, down from 12.1 per cent in the same month last year.


Its headwinds are new models from rival brands launched in the past 18 months, including the Kia Seltos (10 per cent market share in November); Mazda CX-30 (9.3 per cent), and Hyundai Kona (12.6 per cent).


It also takes on the grandfather ASX which, despite its 11 years in the business, has the biggest share in the sector at 14.4 per cent in November. That is impressive but a big dive on its 21.0 per cent stake in November 2019.


Subaru’s XV is also no fresh bread, yet holds 8.1 per cent in November (down from 10.5 per cent last year), and Honda’s HR-V has 8.7 per cent with Toyota’s C-HR at 8.8 per cent.


There are 22 models in the small SUV sector in which the Qashqai competes and demand has kept the inventory turning over with a lot of names now only memories.


Since 2015, lost players in this sector that came up against the Qashqai include the Chinese brand Chery, Citroen C4, Ford EcoSport, Holden Trax, Hyundai ix35, Jeep Patriot and Renegade, Peugeot 2008, 3008 and 4008, Skoda Yeti and Suzuki S-Cross. Some have moved to a different segment, such as the Volkswagen Tiguan moving up a notch to the medium SUV segment.


Nissan also faces strife in the large SUV sector with its aging Pathfinder that now holds only 1.2 per cent market share. Dealers moved 87 Pathfinders in the month of November, well down on the 234 units in the same month last year but attributed mostly to the updated model succeeding a depleted stock of old vehicles.


Toyota’s Prado and Kluger hold a near 28 per cent share of this market segment but there’s also gains this year and this month from rivals including the LDV D90 (107 sales in November, 608 for the year and rising); Ford Everest on its second wind with 710 sales for November and 5409 for the year as it farewells its sibling, the Endura; Kia Sorento with a new model for 796 November sales; and the Mazda CX-8 and CX-9 seven-seaters with 503 and 743 November sales respectively, up 224.5 per cent and 38.6 per cent.


However spy shots have been floating around of an all-new Pathfinder, which will likely be revealed at some point in 2021 and released in Australia soon after.


It’s even more arduous in the heavyweight upper-large SUV sector where the petrol-only Patrol languishes alongside its only sub-$100,000 rival, the domineering Toyota LandCruiser.


The Patrol, which has undergone an update in the US which won’t be translated here, has 16.2 per cent of the market this year based on 2484 sales, up against the Land Cruiser’s 83.8 per cent stake and 12,843 sales.


This segment is actually buoyant and reports a 5.0 per cent increase year-to-date, which augers well for the Patrol in the future.


The evergreen X-Trail is Nissan’s anchor, with almost 12,500 sales to the end of November. For 2021, it is squarer (fashioned in the mould of the previous-generation X-Trail), wider but shorter, powered by the same 2.5-litre petrol four and with a CVT. It arrives late next year.


X-Trail (originally supposed to mean “cross-trail” but sidelined by people preferring to use the X-word) sales are down 31.5 per cent on stock delays and the steamroller sales of Toyota’s RAV4.


The Toyota has a 25.4 per cent market share of the medium SUV segment at November 2020, up from 14 per cent for the same 11 months in 2019 – an incredible performance given all external factors and one attributed in a large part by its hybrid version of the SUV.


By comparison, the X-Trail has an 8.8 per cent market share for this year, while another rival, Mazda’s CX-5, lifted its stake through the year to 14.5 per cent.


Nissan also has a lot of success with its restyled Juke SUV, picking up 226 sales in November (up from 51 in November 2019) and 882 for the year for an 86.9 per cent increase. The Leaf EV has not scored as well, selling 314 for the year, down 10.7 per cent.


The ute market may have had a temporary burst of sunshine with the tax write-off that positively affected sales in May and June and deliveries in July and August. The Nissan Navara utes slipped in sales with 4x4 down 11.1 per cent to 8719 sales for the year while 4x2 recorded 1619 sales, down 37.2 per cent.


The other two Nissan-badged contributors, the 370Z and GT-R, remained at the low end of the sales list, with 102 and 22 sales respectively to the end of November.


Nissan has said it will release an updated GT-R and the 370Z replacement, the 400Z, at the end of next year but that timeline is not confirmed for Australia.

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