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Nissan product onslaught to reignite sales spark

Nissan hasn’t had the best year, but four new models should help revive its fortunes

4 May 2022

NISSAN Australia will go from having one of the oldest line-ups in the country to having one of the freshest, with four all-new models – three of them critical volume-generating SUVs – arriving on local soil before Christmas. 


And their arrival literally couldn’t come sooner. With interruptions from the pandemic, the outgoing Pathfinder and Qashqai being well and truly run out, and priority for some new models being given to other markets, Nissan Australia has endured a tough first half of 2022.


To the end of April, the company remains a top-ten manufacturer (albeit in ninth position), but its market share has slumped to 3.0 per cent versus 4.4 per cent this time last year.


“[Late last year] we were expecting in the middle of this calendar year to have normalisation of supply,” said Nissan Australia managing director, Adam Paterson.


“But that is not the reality. As far as when is the date that this is over, I wouldn’t want to put my finger on it, but we would expect to have some normalisation in the back half of the year.”


The new-generation Nissan Z (the numerics have been dropped entirely from the Z-car’s nomenclature) arrives mid-year to kickstart some consumer interest. Though it’s not expected to be a volume seller, the presence of Nissan’s powerful 298kW Z should at least help drag prospects through showroom doors.


The Leaf electric car – another small-volume, but tech-forward offering - also receives a minor update in August, but the heavy-hitting all-new SUVs – Qashqai, X-Trail and Pathfinder – won’t land until the fourth quarter. Those three will be critical for regaining market share for Nissan. 


The new Qashqai won’t just provide a much-needed replacement for the seven year-old J11 model, but it will also be the first Nissan in this country to feature the company’s e-Power hybrid powertrain, a system that drives the wheels purely electrically but generates electrical power via a combustion engine.


For Nissan, it will provide a useful foil to rivals like the Toyota C-HR hybrid, Yaris Cross hybrid, and Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV.


The new X-Trail will replace the long-serving T32 model that launched in 2014 (and remains in good supply, according to Nissan), and will be a ground-up redesign. The T32 has served Nissan well, but with year-to-date sales being significantly softer than last year (6198 units to end of April 2021, but just 2790 units for the same period in 2022) the time is nigh for a new one to step in. 


At the top, the thoroughly ancient R52 Pathfinder will move aside after nearly nine years on the market, making way for a box-fresh large SUV that retains big-displacement petrol power, but modernises design and technology to better rival the Toyota Kluger, Hyundai Palisade and Mazda CX-9.


Precise timing or even the order of arrival for those models is still unclear, with Nissan obviously conscious of the continuing ‘fluid’ nature of global supply and its effect on delivery times.


Full pricing and features for both Pathfinder and X-Trail are expected to be announced in the next couple of months.


Complicating matters is the fact that each car is sourced from a different country, with Qashqais coming from the United Kingdom, X-Trails from Japan, and Pathfinders from the United States. That said, the company is confident that it can deliver all four models before the year is out – though perhaps not every variant or powertrain will be available from launch, particularly in the case of the Qashqai e-Power hybrid.


The Navara is still selling strongly versus last year – no doubt buoyed by the arrival in December of the ultra-rugged Pro-4X Warrior flagship – and the Patrol notching up sales records as Aussie buyers wise up to its potent value-for-money proposition (and perhaps also a by-product of would-be 300-series LandCruiser purchasers giving up hope in the face of prolonged shortages of that product, and fleeing into the arms of Nissan).


Patrol sales are indeed strong. With 3333 sold last year 2021 was the Y62’s best year on record, while Nissan has moved 1978 of its biggest offroad wagon so far this year – not bad, considering there’s still eight months left in the year. If that pace can be sustained then 2022 will be another record result for the aging Patrol, though the familiar story of supply shortages may yet interfere.


As it stands, new Patrol customers face a four-to-five month waiting time for their cars.


The arrival of three all-new SUVs will likely come far too late in the year to give Nissan the 2022 result it was perhaps hoping for, but they put the company in a strong position to hit the ground running in 2023 – provided global supply chains have run out of curveballs to throw.

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