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Nissan's segment struggle

Sex sells: Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall with the Tiida.

Nissan admits to 'traction trouble' with its vital Pulsar replacement, the Tiida

Nissan logo23 Mar 2006

By NEIL MCDONALD

NISSAN Australia’s new marketing general manager has denied that the Japanese brand has gone "off the boil" amid a sales downturn, arguing that momentum was difficult to achieve when competing in new model segments.

Ross Booth told GoAuto last week that the company’s current position – being more than 1000 sales down year-to-date after just two months, following a 7600-sales downturn in 2005 compared to the previous year – reflected its increasing segmentation as well as heat coming out of the overall new-vehicle market.

"We’re talking about the change in industry segmentation," he said. "We’ve launched five cars in the last eight months so it’s really that the segmentation is looking like we’re under-performing.

"We’ve just launched two new products – the Tiida and Murano – (and) the new Maxima is in the process of being launched." The Pathfinder 4WD and Navara dual-cab ute are the other vehicles Nissan Australia has launched in recent months.

Mr Booth admitted it was "challenging" to launch two new nameplates in the Tiida and Murano, noting that the latter was pitched into a segment that the company had never challenged before. The newest offering, the Pulsar-replacing Tiida, found just 708 buyers last month, less than half its monthly forecast.

"It’s very difficult to get traction with both of those vehicles, but we’re starting to get there," he said. "The creative execution on both, particularly with Tiida, has been well received.

"We’re getting lots of positive feedback from existing customers and consumers generally. We’re confident Tiida will achieve what we need it to achieve."He said Tiida buyers have had no issues with the new nameplate, despite the fact that Pulsar had served the company for 26 years. "Our customer feedback so far is that this car is not a Pulsar, it’s a Tiida, and the name has not impacted our sales at all," he said.

12 center imageMr Booth (left) said the Micra light car was still under consideration for Australia.

The Note and Cube are also on the company’s radar for the medium to long term, but as niche products would also need a strong business case to ensure their success here.

"We’re looking at the numbers at the moment and looking at the industry," he said. "They are niche vehicles but at the end of the day you need to get vehicles that will sell to support volume."Last year Nissan sales slipped from 63,654 – 6.7 per cent market share – in 2004 to 56,032, giving it a 5.7 per cent market share in what was a booming year. In January and February this year, the company sold 9065 vehicles, down from 8028 for the same period last year and giving it a 5.4 per cent share.

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