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Nissan drops Almera sedan

Over and out: Nissan's Micra-based Almera sedan launched in Australia in August 2012 but has failed to have an impact on the local light-car segment.

Slow-selling Almera light sedan axed as Nissan focuses on building on its strengths

Nissan logo14 Jul 2014

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

NISSAN has announced that the Almera light sedan has been dropped from the Australian line-up following lower than expected sales since its 2012 local debut.

With the company currently undergoing a restructure in order to improve profitability and reverse a downward sales spiral, no more shipments of the slow-selling Mirca-based four-door sedan will arrive in the country.

It is believed the decision was one of the first made by Nissan Australia CEO and managing director, Richard Emery, following his appointment to the role on the first day of the Japanese fiscal new year on April 1.

Speaking on the eve of the launch of the Nissan Qashqai compact SUV in Brisbane this week, the former Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific general manager of sales revealed it is no longer financially viable to support a model with low volume prospects.

“It is a struggle in the light-car sedan segment in Australia,” he said. “The Almera no longer fits in with our plans.” When it was launched in August 2012, Nissan expected to sell about 250 Almeras per month – or about 3000 sales annually.

Adding that those forecasts were “under calling it”, the company had hoped that the Thai-built sedan and Micra hatch combo would help it be a force in the light-car segment in Australia.

But in the Almera’s first full year on sale in Australia, its monthly average run rate was only 177 units, while so far in 2014 just 236 cars have been sold.

With volume shrinking so fast, it is no surprise that Nissan made the decision to let the axe fall.

Back in April at the third-generation X-Trail launch in Melbourne, Mr Emery told GoAuto that some slow-selling models were under review for this market.

“I’m a product guy and I like to get my hands dirty in the product area,” he said. “And it’s certainly something I will throw my weight behind.

“I’m very conscious of making sure that we make our own decisions that are absolutely right for the Australian marketplace, and we don’t get driven down roads by global issues.

“My judgement in terms of product decisions may be noted for what I say no to rather than what I say yes to.” The axing of Almera in Australia comes hot on the heels of two important additions to the light-car sedan segment in Australia this year in the shape of the Honda City and Mitsubishi Mirage Sedan – which undercut the Nissan by $1000 and $2500 respectively.

Whether this had anything to do with its demise is still unclear.

In its 23 months on sale in this country, three variants were offered – the base ST manual at $16,990, an ST automatic from $18,990 and the top-line Ti auto from $20,990, plus on-road costs.

All variants were powered by a 75kW/139Nm 1.5-litre twin-cam four-cylinder petrol engine mated to either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.

Known as the Latio in some markets, the Almera is actually the direct replacement for the equally unloved Tiida sedan sold in Australia for nearly seven years from 2006.

It had its public debut at the Guangzhou motor show in China in 2010.

Confusingly the Almera name was also applied to the 1995 N15 and 2000 N16 Pulsar/Sunny C-segment small-car ranges in Europe.

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