– By Mike Ridley-Smith –
Nissan is aiming it’s resurgence directly at the two big automotive trends in Australia – the conversion of conventional sedan/wagon sales to SUVs, and the growing sales of high riding pickups whether for work or play.
At the Nissan NP300 Navara launch last year Fleet Auto News sat down with Nissan managing director Richard Emery for a quick update on their 2016 plans.
Emery joined Nissan as CEO and MD in early 2014 after stints at Audi, Mitsubishi and Mercedes. With lengthy model cycles it can take some time for a new managing director to recast the focus of a manufacturer’s product range. Recent changes to the model line up at Nissan certainly indicate the fleet market is part of the new direction.
Emery acknowledged that previously Nissan struggled in the fleet space by not having a full pickup range.
“We wanted to ensure the Navara range covered all fleet requirements – we can’t get eliminated from consideration before we even get to sit down with fleet managers”. However, winning market share in remote mining areas remains elusive. “We are not currently prepared to swallow the set up costs for a fully fledged assault on remote mining centres” says Emery.
Emery was also realistic on the benefits and challenges of chasing volume in the rental car market and the impact it can have on residual values.
“We need to find the right balance in the rental space. Rental vehicles will always provide a great opportunity for prospective customers to get behind the wheel of our vehicles. We just need to pull-back on the volume. We are not going after volume at all costs” states Emery.
Another big decision facing Nissan in the near term is their future in Australian V8 Supercars. As the category looks at significant changes for 2017 each manufacturer will be carefully weighing up their vehicle and engine options.
There is no V8 Nissan Altima to sell on Monday no matter how well the cars go on Sunday. So the chance to use a new engine size and vehicle body represents an opportunity for Nissan to leverage its reputation for exciting and fast race cars.
The numbers are being crunched both locally and in Japan. “If we stay involved, assume it will be more relevant to the showroom” is all Emery would reveal.