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Long way to go for Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi: Ghosn

Ghosn, Ghosn, gone: Renault-Nissan Alliance chairman and CEO Carlo Ghosn was recently in Australia for six days to meet with key people from the alliance including executives from Mitsubishi, Nissan and Renault.

More product to lift Renault-Nissan Alliance fortunes in Aus, according to boss

Nissan logo9 Jun 2017

BRANDS under the Renault-Nissan Alliance – including the recently-acquired Mitsubishi – will each play to their strengths in order to become the best-selling automotive group in Australia, according to Renault-Nissan Alliance chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn.

In Australia to meet with local alliance member executives, Mr Ghosn was also invited to speak on the future of the auto industry by the University of Sydney where he admitted that each of the brands “can do much better” in sales and answered GoAuto’s question on how the lift in performance is to be achieved.

“It’s not going to be coordinated,” he said. “Mitsubishi has its own way, Nissan its own way and Renault its own way and everybody’s competing against somebody else.

“I’m not with every single team to tell them, ‘Guys, Australia is an opportunity land for us also, so we need to move up and we need to see what are the bottlenecks, what are our obstacles’, we need to solve them and we need to solve them by appealing to the niche of people of every brand.”

For the first five months the year, the Renault-Nissan Alliance has totalled 58,631 sales in Australia, accounting for about 12.6 per cent of the overall 465,381 new-car market.

Renault has sold 4387 vehicles (5.6 per cent up year-on-year), Nissan has sold 23,490 new cars (down 13 per cent over the same period last year), Mitsubishi leads alliance sales with 30,407 (up 6.5 per cent), while Infiniti has contributed just 347 sales (up 16.8 per cent).

The French-Japanese conglomerate is currently trailing Toyota Motor Corporation Australia in sales, which has hit 84,480 Toyota sales, 3711 Lexus sales and an additional 1716 in its Hino commercial vehicle division, totalling 89,907 for 19.3 per cent of all new car sales in Australia year-to-date.

The Volkswagen Group, with brands including Volkswagen (22,682), Skoda (1911), Porsche (2243), Bentley (52) and Audi (8549), account for 35,437 of sales – or 7.6 per cent – to the end of May.

Mr Ghosn said that while globally the group is expected to finish ahead of Toyota and Volkswagen Group in sales this year, Australian sales need to lift to reflect the worldwide trend.

“In 2017, very likely, even though this is not the stated objective of the line, very likely we’ll end up being the top automotive group,” he said. “Which is between 10.5 million and 11 million cars sold, depending on the performance of each company.

“When you’re the top automotive group… it’s very simple, if we want this to be sustainable and strong, we need to be top automotive group in every single market including Australia.

“Today, we’re not. We’re the second largest if you add the market share of Mitsubishi, Nissan and Renault. We’re in the number two position.”

To jumpstart sales in the Australian market, Mr Ghosn said fresh product would be brought in for all brands, but did not elaborate on what vehicles were being assessed.

“Obviously we need to bring more product, we need to bring more technology and we’re going to do that,” he said. “We’re going to do that because we have such an extensive offer worldwide.”

Whatever products the alliance deems suitable for the Australian market are likely to heavily favour SUVs and crossovers as the group’s local passenger-car offerings continue to dwindle.

Nissan culled its passenger-car products earlier this year in April, discontinuing its Pulsar and Altima, leaving only the GT-R and 370Z sportscars and all-electric Leaf as its non-SUV offerings.

Mitsubishi, on the other hand, has continued with the ageing Lancer small car for 10 years without a major update and is rumoured to drop the nameplate from its range in an announcement in October.

The Mirage is also selling in small numbers, averaging about 167 sales a month this year in the micro-car segment which is down 11.5 per cent.

Infiniti’s only passenger-car offerings – the Q30, Q50 and Q60 – continue to contribute to the premium brand’s overall small total, while Renault’s Megane and Clio enjoy moderate sales success bolstered by the arrival of new-generation and facelifted products over the past year.

However, future vehicles from all manufactures under the Renault-Nissan umbrella are expected to at least share architecture and technology with one another to cut costs – a specialty of Mr Ghosn – with the first cars expected to emerge sometime in the next three years.

Another cost-cutting measure in the alliance has been the recent consolidation of the financial services and parts and accessories businesses of both Nissan and Mitsubishis in Australia.

Mr Ghosn said the key to success in Australia is to bring the right vehicles to market, obtained from sustainable factories and sold through the right mix of dealerships.

“I’m very optimistic because I think our business is about products, it’s about sourcing where the car’s coming from and about dealer network,” he said.

“If you have a strong dealer network, competitive sourcing, attractive products, you’re going to end up at the top. There’s no reason for us not to end up there, but it’s going to be a long journey.”

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