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Nissan sounds warning about Navara aftermarket parts
Local Nissan boss says parts modelled off Thai-spec Navaras may not be up to the job
3 Jun 2015
By TIM ROBSON
THAI-SPEC Nissan Navaras have been imported to Australia ahead of the local arm’ s launch, and Nissan Australia’s managing director and CEO Richard Emery is warning customers that products built off this platform may not work as advertised.
The Navara has been on sale in Thailand since February, and GoAuto understands that at least three major 4x4 aftermarket suppliers – including Australia’s largest manufacturer and distributor of 4x4 accessories, ARB – have sourced Thai-spec vehicles for in-house development use prior to the Australian launch of the vehicle.
Intended for use in the local market, the Navara Calibre on sale in Thailand uses a YD25DDTi single-turbo four-cylinder diesel in two states of tune. The same engine is not offered in Australian-spec vehicles rather, it uses two versions of the Renault-sourced YS23 four-cylinder turbo diesel, one with a single turbo and one with a pair of sequential turbos.
Mr Emery confirmed to GoAuto that no Australian-spec models were made available to aftermarket suppliers, and that by using a non-Australian-spec car, consumers may be put at a disadvantage.
“I am aware that some non-genuine operators imported their cars from Thailand to do some of their work, which will be interesting,” he told GoAuto. “Some of the specifications are significantly different between our car and the Thai car. There are potentially some traps there. I hope they haven't put too much effort into that development.” Mr Emery noted that Australian-spec vehicles had been on the ground for some months prior to the May launch, and that while Nissan Australia developed many of its own accessories, it outsourced some of the work to outside companies.
He also acknowledged that the aftermarket industry offers parts to Navara owners that Nissan itself would not produce, but customers should still be wary of items designed on non-local vehicles.
“There's a time and a place for aftermarket accessories, of course,” he noted. “The aftermarket industry in Australia is quite broad and it's quite mature. It's been around a long time. Ultimately there will be some consumer demands for the vehicle use that we (Nissan) simply won't do.
“We just need to make sure the consumers are made fully aware of why the genuine accessories meets the expectations that they should have, in terms of testing and fitting the purpose.” In particular, Mr Emery noted that the local arm of Nissan has been working hard on issues relating to engine cooling while developing genuine-accessory bullbars.
“A lot of the testing we've been doing, particularly with bullbars ... anything hanging off the front of the car is about cooling,” he explained. “Because the Thai car doesn't have our engine, there are some traps there. That's why we've had to go through a fairly rigorous regime separate to the global accessory program because of our specific purposes and our specific engine and our weather and our conditions.” ARB national sales and marketing manager Matthew Frost told GoAuto that the company has imported a Thai-market car for research and development purposes, but it has also purchased two local-spec cars.
“We can understand why Nissan Australia might be upset – a few other companies have been running ads advertising (Navara) accessories for more than three months now,” said Mr Frost.
“From our point of view, yes we did import a Thai-built Navara. We have a plant in Thailand, and Thailand is a big market for us. It was always our intention to sell Navara accessories there.” Mr Frost stressed that locally sourced Navaras would be used to retest and validate any products that ARB plans to sell domestically for the Navara.
“What we’ve also done is also bought two vehicles locally,” he said. “What we will do is take all of the accessories that we do for the Thai-based vehicle and do our usual research and development for Australian vehicles on them.” He said that a large part of ARB’s testing involves finding solutions for cooling and safety.
“Part of the development process on bullbars is absolutely on cooling,” he said. “There’s a range of tests we conduct to make sure the bulbar doesn’t have a negative affect on the vehicle’s performance or safety, like airbag deployment and the like.” Mr Frost said that the first products to be offered include a bullbar, side protection bars and a canopy.
“We were actually very much involved in the original development of the standards for bullbars in Australia through the AAAA (Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association), so any bar we develop for the Navara will pass those tests,” he said.
The 4WD aftermarket accessories industry is currently the largest sector of the Australian automotive aftermarket sector, which is worth an estimated $5.4 billion a year.
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