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Nissan Altima won’t chase Camry

Middle management: Altima sales are lagging behind its competitors in the mid-size segment.

Local Nissan MD says chasing Camry sales won't work in shrinking mid-size segment

Nissan logo17 Jul 2014

NISSAN will not waste resources pushing the Altima in an attempt to reel in the Toyota Camry, despite a slow start that has seen the all-new sedan languishing in its medium segment.

Citing poor launch timing leading up to Toyota’s announcement that it would cease Australian manufacturing, and the consequent aggressive marketing for Camry that has since followed, Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Richard Emery said that a retail focus would be more beneficial to the brand’s image in the long term.

“I don’t think Altima needs being fixed,” he told GoAuto at the Qashqai compact SUV launch in Brisbane.

“It’s certainly not our attitude that Altima is failing. Of course we’d like to sell a few more of them. We have backed off with Altima.

“Altima was launched just when Toyota made the (exit strategy) announcement, so you can imagine that they’ve been incredibly aggressive with Camry over the last six months.

“We’ve chosen not to chase them. Their motivations are completely different to ours. We could sell more if we choose to, but it would not be from our perspective a sustainable approach to the product.

“So we’re sitting back and watching the segment, which is under a lot of pressure and certainly Toyota is being particularly aggressive, which you can also understand from their perspective.

“We’re just hanging back… but it’s a part of our line-up that is important.”

While Nissan Australia’s then-caretaker managing director and CEO Peter Jones did make it clear at the Altima’s press launch last November that the company would not chase Camry, he did say the base variants were packaged to appeal to the fleet market.

“The way these cars are specified it is going to be aimed specifically at the fleet market – 2.5 litre… We have been out talking to the fleet customers,” he said at the time.

However Mr Emery, who only started in the position as head of Nissan Australia in April after a successful career as sales manager at Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific, said the private market is where the Altima’s promotional dollars are going right now.

“We’re back in the retail space with some advertising at the moment,” he said.

“As you know, the medium segment is not the biggest in Australia.”

Nissan shifted just 781 Altimas so far this year for just 3.2 per cent of the VFACTS Medium under-$60,000 sector, well behind the leading Camry’s 10,118 units (for a lion’s share 41.3 per cent).

Also beating the Thai-built sedan has been the Mazda6 (3211), Ford Mondeo (1636), the heavily discounted Volkswagen Jetta (1396), Hyundai i40 (1390), Honda Accord (984), Holden Malibu (982) and Skoda Octavia (874).

Overall market share for the mid-size under $60K segment is down 13.2 per cent over the corresponding January to June 2013 levels and has been feeling the pressure from the small-car class below and the compact/medium SUVs above for some time.

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