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Nissan predicts tough sales conditions for 2020
New product to help Nissan consolidate market share and achieve long-term growth
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13 Dec 2019
NISSAN Australia has predicted the overall new-vehicle market downturn in 2019 will continue into 2020, however it will aim to retain its segment share and achieve long-term growth with new product coming down the pipeline.
Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the Navara N-Trek Warrior last month, Nissan Australia managing director Stephen Lester said the company was expecting tough conditions but was remaining optimistic with its outlook.
“We’re maintaining share – in terms of our plan, the reality is the market is very, very likely still going to be quite tough next year (2020),” he said.
“We are as optimistic as we can possibly be and believe that with the rejuvenation of our product line-up that we can continue to drive and strive for growth, (but) it’s going to continue to be a tough market.”
Nissan sales dropped 12.3 per cent last year to 50,575 units – the lowest mark for Japanese brand in almost two decades (since 2001) – while its share of the market fell from 5.0 to 4.8 per cent.
All models bar the Patrol upper-large SUV retracted in new registrations over the previous year, although the new-generation Leaf EV also attracted some small incremental volume.
Mr Lester said that in order to return to growth, Nissan would look to strengthen its line-up by offering products in all essential segments in a balanced way, which he said the brand has not done in the past.
When asked how Nissan could improve its “channel mix”, Mr Lester said a small car was at the top of the Japanese brand’s wish list.
“I would love a small car, still,” he said. “Believe it or not, growth and improvement would be relatively easy going from zero to something in that segment.
“We’ve got a plethora of (global small car) nameplates, we don’t necessarily have a plethora of choices, but we’ll continue to work with the global team to see what we can bring into the market in terms of that B/C segment vehicle as we go forward, and we’ll see how that can be realised.”
Mr Lester added that any small car coming to Australia would have to fit the needs of customers, such as ensuring a five-star ANCAP safety rating and offering the right performance, specification and price point.
To help sustain it in 2020, Nissan will rely on a range of new products coming through, including the new Navara N-Trek Warrior which will compete with the likes of the Ford Ranger Raptor at the top of the 4x4 pick-up segment.
Mr Lester said Nissan hopes to sell between 180 and 200 units of the N-Trek Warrior per month, equating to 2160-2400 units per year, which if added to the 4x4 Navara’s 2019 sales tally would mean year-on-year growth for the pick-up.
Overall, Navara sales fell 18.6 per cent last year to 13,412 units.
The smallest SUV in Nissan’s portfolio, the Juke, is also set to be launched in all-new second-generation guise in mid-2020, which should add volume to the model which saw 19.8 per cent year-to-date fall in sales, to just 509 units.
A model-year update will soon be applied to the segment-straddling Qashqai SUV, which suffered a 16.5 per cent fall in sales last year to 11,653 units, while the seven-seat Pathfinder large SUV (2712, -29.1%), will also score a number of visual enhancements with the introduction of the N-Trek variant.
Nissan’s biggest-selling model, the X-Trail, also recently added an N-Trek version, although across the series sales slipped 6.9 per cent last year to 19,726 units.
One model the brand is hoping to introduce to Australia is the Titan full-size pick-up, which is currently only produced in left-hand drive.
Mr Lester said Nissan Australia has had its eye on the Titan for as long as he has been at the helm, which could compete with the likes of the Ram 1500 which has found success in Australia with 2339 sales to the end of November this year.
“To be honest, we thought about Titan since day dot for me,” he said. “It was probably one of the biggest surprises for me coming to this country that the segment didn’t exist, of course coming from a country (Canada) and continent where the segments are completely the opposite.
“In Australia you have none of the road limitations that Europe has, you have none of the space constraints that Europe or some of the Asian markets have.
“So without question, it is and has been and is and will remain on our radar, as long as there is a Titan, we will push to bring (it) to Australia.”
When asked whether Nissan would consider teaming up with a separate low-volume manufacturer to locally convert the Titan to right-hand drive – as importer Ateco does with FCA’s Ram pick-ups – Mr Lester said the brand’s preference has always been to have right-hand drive available from the factory.
“It would of course be our preference that OEM manufacturing right-hand drive would come to fruition; doesn’t mean that won’t change in the future … but at the moment the only option would be for us would be to do a right-hand conversion,” he said.
“As a collective, Nissan is very serious about ensuring the safety, the viability and the durability of the product that we would bring to market here is deserving of the Nissan badge, and we’ve got to continue working on how we can make sure that that can be delivered before we can get an OK to deliver the product here.”
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