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Nissan takes it slow

Maxed-out: Nissan's next-generation Maxima is due here in 2009.

Bucking the trend of its rivals, Nissan Australia does not have plans for big growth

Nissan logo29 Jul 2008


NISSAN plans to significantly build sales volume in expanding markets - but Australia is not one of them.

While markets such as Brazil, Russia, India, China - what Nissan terms ‘BRICs’ - are Nissan target growth areas, Australia is one market in which Nissan plans to “maintain and grow market share from a modest perspective”, according to Nissan Australia CEO Dan Thompson.

Mr Thompson was speaking to GoAuto at the launch of X-Trail diesel and Navara King Cab in Canberra this week, where he outlined the company’s strategy for the next five years.

While Nissan fills gaps in its range with additions to existing model lines - such as the X-Trail diesel and Navara King Cab - the company’s volume this year has slipped 4.3 per cent to July 2008 compared with the same period last year.

Mr Thompson says that “It is a challenge for us - how do we manage complexity and how do we find volume out of the brand.”

Nissan has only small-volume models destined for our market in 2009 - the GT-R, Murano, Maxima and the 350Z replacement. While all are important models for Nissan, none will add much if any volume to the Nissan bottom line.

Nissan’s general manager for marketing, Ross Booth, said that he’d like to see more light commercial vehicles included in the Nissan range (Nissan sells the Renault Kangoo as the Kubistar and the Renault Trafic as the Primastar in the UK).

“There are vans available globally for Nissan - personally I’d like to bring vans into this market, I think there is a market for a good van in Australia - but we haven’t got a business case yet to do so,” he said.

However, Mr Thompson added “it is a bit in the distance and not as hot and heavy as working on Murano and Maxima. We’ll take another look at it, but it’s not something we’ll see in the next few years.”

There are few other prospects for Nissan’s new product line-up in the near future. One of them, the Skyline, has been quashed. According to Mr Booth: “There are no plans for Skyline - at all.

“The name would work really well in the Australian market, but because it is an Infinity product [Nissan’s luxury brand] it is not made to be sold under the Nissan badge anywhere outside of Japan.”

Meanwhile, Mr Thompson said a new Patrol has not progressed any closer to a local launch. “It won’t die. I’d like to stand here and tell you we’ve got something coming soon, but that’s not the case. Patrol is serving its purpose for us now, it’s doing good volume.” Mr Thompson says the new Patrol replacement is “two-plus years away. We still have quite a bit of work to do on it.”

One avenue is the electric vehicle (EV) that Nissan has committed for introduction in the US and Japan in 2010, and that Nissan Australia hopes to see here by 2012.

“We’re working very hard on the EV strategy, but it is still very early days for us.”

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