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Paris show: Nissan sticks with global model policy

The name game: Nissan’s European focused Pulsar (below) will go in sale in that region this month, but the company sells the Thai-built Pulsar (left) in Australia.

Nissan to continue tailoring its line-up to suit different global markets

Nissan logo6 Oct 2014

By TIM NICHOLSON in PARIS

NISSAN is sticking to its strategy of creating region-specific model ranges with the company’s European boss saying its policy results in tailored line-ups that cater for individual markets.

Under its current regime, the Japanese car-maker offers a variety of different models in various markets, including unrelated cars carrying the same moniker, rather than offering common models across the board.

The policy is the opposite of American rival Ford’s ‘One Ford’ approach that sees the car-maker sell the same vehicle in all major markets, except where a model is not an appropriate fit.

Nissan Europe chairman Paul Willcox told GoAuto at the Paris motor show that Nissan was comfortable with its strategy of offering product to suit individual markets and has no plans to streamline its range.

“Of course there are advantages of having global scale,” he said. “Nissan takes a slightly different view than maybe some of our Japanese competitors.

“We really believe we need to focus on the needs of the customer. And the needs of a customer in Europe are distinctly different to the needs of a customer in the United States or China or Japan.

“So what sells in Japan is not entirely suited to the needs of a European customer. Not just design, but also from a drivability and engineering point of view.” Mr Willcox highlighted the European market as an example of how a tailored model strategy can be successful for the brand.

“If you look at what Nissan has invested in Europe. We have design capacity in Paddington, England, we engineer cars in Cranfield, north of London and we manufacture heavily in Europe.

“The reason for that is because we believe we need to design and engineer and manufacture for the needs of the local market. So you can’t do it in every country, but certainly in the big blocks of the regions, of course we will take common products, so X-Trail for example is a common product in many markets.

“We will design products that are engineered for the local market. Pulsar is a great example. It is European defined, designed and engineered for Europe.”

Nissan Australia sells a version of the Pulsar hatch that is sourced from Thailand and sold in some markets as the Tiida, while the Pulsar sedan is offered in Japan and other Asian markets as the oddly named Sylphy.

In Europe, the Pulsar name was recently resurrected for an all-new model developed specifically for the European market and tasked with taking on the Volkswagen Golf.

The Australian-spec Nissan Maxima, dubbed Teana in some markets, was discontinued last year to make way for the American-focussed Altima and is different to the Maxima sold in the United States.

Nissan Australia’s current Pulsar policy could change, as the car-maker’s local arm is believed to be investigating the viability of replacing the Thai-sourced version with the Euro-focussed model.

The Pulsar arrived in sedan form in Australia in January 2013 with the hatch following in June, and while the company initially had high expectations for the model that replaced the unloved Tiida, sales have failed maintain their initial levels.

To the end of September, Pulsar sales have dropped by 31 per cent compared with the same period last year, with 7527 units shifted, down from 10,918.

As well as lagging behind the top selling Toyota Corolla and Mazda3, the Pulsar also trails the Volkswagen Golf, Holden Cruze and Ford Focus and is in danger of being outsold by the seven-year-old Mitsubishi Lancer, which is just 277 units behind it.

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