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Nissan confident of post-COVID turnaround

Stimulus package: The all-new Juke light SUV forms an important part of Nissan’s plans for a sales recovery in the second half of the year.

Second half of 2020 to bring upswing in sales for Nissan as COVID impact eases

22 Jun 2020

NISSAN Australia is confident that the second half of 2020 will bring a sales turnaround for the Japanese brand, following the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that has wreaked havoc on Australian new-vehicle sales.


The first five months of 2020 have ravaged the overall market, playing a major hand in pushing it down 23.9 per cent for the year to date with substantial monthly declines of 35.3 per cent in May and a crushing 48.5 per cent in April.


However, among the chaos, car companies and various other organisations across the industry have begun to identify ‘green shoots’, based on high levels of buyer enquiry, government stimulus measures, the easing of travel restrictions and other factors.


Speaking exclusively to GoAuto, Nissan Australia managing director Stephen Lester said the company was optimistic of a sales uplift in the back half of the year, with some growing momentum being observed in the market.


“What we’re seeing in the market right now is a really strong June by all accounts, and that’s picked up from where May was obviously a marked improvement over the April results,” he said.


“And so what July holds and beyond is going to be interesting. I think it’s going to be a little dependent on how restrictions continue to ease and how quickly and easily people get back to work and a more ‘normal’ month if you will.”


Nissan’s sales were down 44.2 per cent last month and for the year to date have dropped 27.2 per cent compared to the same period last year.


However, Mr Lester said the drop in sales over recent months has created a backlog in demand that could be realised over coming months.


“We’re still very much in that transition, and there’s a little bit of pent-up demand right now that we’re experiencing and seeing in the market – people getting back out after a few months and we’ve of course got the natural conclusion of the financial year for Australians and most businesses, and therefore there is a natural uptick that we were always going to see in June,” he said.


“So we’re optimistic – I think the TIV (total industry volume) is certainly going to be under pressure and the economy in general is going to be in the spotlight, but we’re optimistic that with our current portfolio and new offerings like the Juke and other little tricks coming down the track in the near future that we’ll be able to achieve our share and certainly meet and exceed the needs and expectations of Australian consumers.”


Mr Lester did not specify what ‘little tricks’ the company was planning to employ.


He was speaking to us as Nissan’s best-selling model, the X-Trail medium SUV, was revealed in all-new guise overseas ahead of a local launch in 12-18 months’ time.


The auto giant is also set to reveal its all-new Z sportscar in coming months, while models including the popular Qashqai small SUV and Pathfinder seven-seat SUV are both drawing close to a generational changeover.


He added that there were no additional updates on plans for the Micra and e-Note hatchbacks to make it to Australia, which as previously reported are both being assessed for a possible return in the local market.


The all-new Juke that launched in second-generation guise last week is expected to provide valuable sales volume for the brand, with the ageing outgoing model struggling to make a sales impact during its last couple of years on sale.


Only 509 Jukes were sold in 2019, down from 635 in 2018, and well off the pace of the 2812 units it managed during its first full year on sale in 2014.


Mr Lester said the second half of 2020 provided the opportunity for Nissan to see its market share – currently at 4.3 per cent – increase in the less-restrictive conditions.


“We would like to see share growth, I think it’s going to be an opportunity this year to see how well we can do,” he said.


“We’ve got strong developments in our overall true fleet business, we’ve seen a really good uptick in retail share in the last couple of months so we’d like to see that continue, and we’ve got new models like Juke coming into the market, so we’re pretty confident.”

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