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Nissan is marching ahead with plans to overtake both Mazda and Hyundai to become Australia’s number one full-line vehicle importer by March 2013, including plans to make the new Pulsar city car the best-selling model in the country.

The Japanese brand says its 2011 sales were affected by last year’s Japanese tsunami and Thailand floods, but that an expansive range of new models, including the return of the Pulsar nameplate for its city car competitor, will help move it into the country’s top four most popular car manufacturers.

Nissan was the sixth most popular brand in Australia in 2011, though its 67,926 sales were well short of fifth-placed Hyundai’s 87,008 units.

In 2012 so far, 11,585 year-to-date sales is closing the gap to a retreating Ford (12,789) and Hyundai (13,925), though Mazda is significantly ahead with 17,168. Toyota and Holden remain in their now-common first and second positions in the sales chart, with 28,914 and 18,749 sales, respectively.

The model that is expected to see Nissan increase volume substantially is the new Pulsar, which is being officially unveiled at next month’s Beijing motor show.

The Nissan Pulsar is planned to be the biggest seller in its segment, according to Thompson. That would mean it could outstrip the Mazda3, Toyota Corolla and locally produced Holden Cruze in the hotly contested small-car segment.

“We have every intent with Pulsar to be number one in the segment… it’s the biggest segment in Australia. That certainly won’t happen at launch (because) the way we’ve decided to roll Pulsar out is staggered with sedan then hatch and then we’ve lined up two or three lifecycle product actions and we’ve given us six to 12 month breathers between (these) actions. So the first 24 months of Pulsar is just non-stop.” said Thompson.

Thompson says that’s the best way to drive sustainable success for the model, instead of dropping every variant in at the beginning and waiting three years for an update. He went on to say the Pulsar would have a noticeable impact on the market share of Hyundai and Mazda.

Speaking to the automotive media at last week’s 2012 Nissan GT-R launch, outgoing Nissan Australia boss Dan Thompson said it would soon complete its coverage of key segments with the arrival of more commercial vehicles and the launch later this year of luxury-brand offshoot Infiniti.

“At the moment we nearly cover every segment outside of vans. So vans and luxury [cars] are the two opportunity segments for us which we will cover through Infiniti and vans.”

Nissan’s GT2012 plan, which runs on the Japanese financial year, originally set Nissan’s aim to not only be the number one Australian importer (that’s not a local car maker) but also reach 10 per cent local market share. That ambition has been slightly modified now to number one importer and an 8.5 per cent market share by March next year.

“We have always tracked how the top 10 brands performed or have performed over the last four-year period, I’d say six of the top 10 brands have gone backwards quite significantly. It’s only really us, Hyundai, Volkswagen and Mazda that have seen significant progress over the last four years.”

When asked how realistic the number one importer position really is for Nissan Australia, Thompson was adamant that it can be done, with around 15,000 more sales required for the upstage. “We would’ve had 75,000 (vehicles sold for FY 2011) if not for natural disasters. We are going to take share from Hyundai and Mazda with Pulsar.”

By March 2017, Nissan Australia will have launched 15 all new products in the market, four of which will be coming out in the next 12 months. It will start with the Nissan Leaf in June, followed by the Nissan Almera in July-Sep, Nissan Patrol late this year and the new Pulsar January-March 2013.

  • Springvale Boi

    It’s OK to get ca$h injection from Renault. But Nissan should stay away from Renault products if they don’t wanna flop. For example the Tiida based on the Renault Clio = flop. The GU-series Patrols with the 3.0L Renault turbo diesel engine=grenade+grief+flop. The 2nd hand GU’s with the 4.2L Nissan diesel engines are in strong demand. The Navara D40 with Renault drive train and design inputs, not as reliable as the other utes. If people wanted get Renaults, they would have got Renaults.

    • Viv R

      Wasn’t the Tiida based on the Megane?

      • davie

         Based on the clio – that is why it is so skinny

    • blahblahblah

       IF they based the next Pulsar SSS on the MEgane RS250.. hmm….

    • Lukas

      Where do you get your info mate? Practically everything you’ve said here is completely wrong. GU Patrol 3.0-litre diesel – Nissan design not Renault (it was done well before the two companies co existed). D40 Navara – once again, no Renault input until the latest V6 diesel was added – and even then the only Renault component is the engine. Nissan’s quality problems were setting in long before Renault came along. As for Dan Thompson’s outlook for the Australian market – Nissan aren’t sending him to a far-flung foreign offshoot where he won’t be quoted on a daily basis for no reason…..

    • John22

       The 3.0L engine is a Nissan motor not Renault. It was around before the renault nissan merge…

  • JamesB

    What one wants is usually hard to attain. To beat the class leaders, the new Pulsar has to be more than twice the car the Tiida was.

    • Dave S

      It will need to handle and look better than a mazda 3 and be better value than a Cruze or sell with lower interest rate than a corolla.

  • MrDucati

    If it’s going to look like the blue one in the picture above then good luck.

    • Viv R

      For a fully electric car (Tesla aside) the Leaf is as pretty as you can get.  Drive one when you get the chance and you will likely be moderately impressed and gain hope for the future of motoring post cheap oil.  Although supply is low, demand for this car is quite high even at $US30K.

  • Shak

    Its good for Nissan to be this ambitious, but thinking the Pulsar will go number one in class would mean it also has to go number 1 in the country now thanks to the Mazda 3 recent successes. I guess it would be achievable if the car was well kitted, cheap and drove ok. Remember, class leaders dont always need to have the best quality (Golf) or drive the best (Focus); the things that will move more units are price, price and kit. At the end of the day majority of the car market is looking for basic transport and little else.

    • Karl Sass

      You forgot looks

      • Shak

        If that were true, the 3 Wouldn’t be at number 1 :p

        • Karl Sass

          Lol I actually don’t mind the looks. 
          I think the smiley face seems to really appeal to the female market for some reason??
          Remember what happened to the AU Falcon or, dare I say it, the Taurus?
          Admittedly the Taurus was a complete sh*t heap, but the AU wasn’t a bad car.

          • Shak

            Yeah i cant argue with you there. 

    • Andrew M

      Whats the Mazda 3’s excuse then?
      It is in my mind the best quality (especially if you consider the many horror Golf stories), but it isnt the cheapest nor best kitted out.

      But apart from the Mazda 3 I get your point and the sales quota rings true in the order the rest of the vehicles sell.

  • Bachman Turner Overdrive

    Nissan must be on drugs! Unless they can essentially reverse engineer a Golf and make it reliable they will have no hope, especially if it looks anything like the concept drawing. An Asian looking hatch with hard plastics will fail.

    • Birty

      You just described the best selling car in the country with that last statement

      • horsie

        The golf is only slightly less dull than the Tida

        • Koulby

          I agree, the current Golf is quite bland, yet my excitement for it just shows how desperatly dull the mainstream Japanese cars are.

      • Koulby

        Gulp, you are right… it is the Corolla.  Still, if Nissan want to rip up the market a real Golf competitor attractively priced is what is needed to stand out.  I guess Toyota can get away with bland cars as it sells on reliability and low running costs.

        • JL

          I thought he was referring to the 3. The Corolla hatch was ‘European-designed’, remember? LOL

  • Tony

    To be fair, the rot didnt start with the Tiida, the previous 2 generations of Pulsars were crap as well (imo, the only class competitive Pulsars were the 1991-95 and 1995-2000 generations).  I realise those two generations of Pulsar still sold well in Australia – i can only assume it was due to simple reliability and/or dirt cheap pricing (not living here at the time)

    It will have to be very special to meet Nissans goal of top seller in class:
    – the reliability of a Corolla
    – the driving enjoymernt of a Mazda 3
    – the equipment and quality of a (new generation) Hyundai i30
    – the feel good factor of a Golf
    – looks that hit the sweet spot between modern but not controversal
    – priced like a Mitsi Lancer

    easy then!

    • ryan bane

       Also convince those who will only buy something with a Holden or Ford badge…

    • Andrew M

      SInce when was the i30 the benchmark for Quality?

      • Tony

         you havent seen the new generation i30 yet.  There is a very good story about Martin Winterkorn’s (VW) opinion of the i30 at the Frankfurt motor show…

        • Koulby

          I have just seen it… VW are now justifiably worried by Hyundai.  Unlike Honda and Toyota their cars look good, quality and presentation is miles ahead of the Japanese and if you add class leading reliability and warranty to the equation… why would I bother with a Golf?  The I40 and new i30 are now on my shortlist for our new cars.  I won’t be back for another VW… to unreliable and even though a Toyota will be good for me… its too much like taking medicine.

          • Robj

            Hyundai = very dull..,.

          • NissanDevEng

             Hyundai’s latest cars are very good, but as an engineer who has been part of teardowns of many of them, they are losing a LOT of cash on the latest cars. They are that good because they’re losing a lot on them. They can afford this though due to the sheer power of the whole hyundai industrial group. And in the long run it will build their brand and their capabilities. Once they pay off some of this mega-expensive tooling and technology etc it will still be around to use for new models.

  • MisterZed

    Has anyone ever heard that song “What a fool believes” ?

  • horsie

    Its going to take more than reviving the pulsar name to become the top selling model in Australia. The pulsars out there have aged very badly, i think the name has already lost its mojo. Its too late !

    • John

       Pulsar didn’t lose its mojo, Nissan threw it away. OK, I agree up to a point, the last of the Pulsars weren’t all that special.

      Nissan is really going to have to pull something special out of the bag to make the new Pulsar even part-way competitive. What are the odds of that?

  • gt86.com.au

    overly ambitious! Keep Drinking, Bottoms Up!

  • Matthew Werner

    Well its nice to have dreams but remember those kiddies trying out for Australian Idol had dreams too lol… don’t be too surprised if it doesn’t work out like you planned

  • MisterZed

    No chance.  Even at the best of times, the Pulsar has never managed anything better than 7th place in Australia.

  • Viet

    This could be the answer to win back Toyota and Mazda in the small car segment. Nissan used to be a strong character with the popular Pulsar in the 1980s, the 1990s and the first half of the 2000s. From Nissan Know How to Just Wait till You Drive it to Shift the Future. But the release of the Tiida in 2006 seriously lost Nissan’s great small car reputation, which see car buyers turning the backs against it. With the return of Pulsar in early 2013, this will bring a strong hope to Nissan, so if there’s a new Pulsar around, buy it. If there’s a Tiida, stay away.

  • Iipt

    Number one is too much.. But I don’t see a problem with 4th spot..

    Cruze is still too hot, corolla is strong, Ma zda 3 is still new and a new i30 will be released, the i30 will do well until the next gen Corolla arrives..

    • F1MotoGP

       To be No 1 is nothing wrong. If Nissan will achieve it…that is another question. Good luck!

    • Sydlocal

      Mazda3 still new? It is one of the oldest cars in the class and in the twilight of it’s model cycle just like the i30…

      • MisterZed

        Er, it’s not even 3 years old yet (came out in April 2009), which means it’s pretty much exactly half way through it’s lifecycle (which could be 5-6 years).  And how on earth is it “one of” the oldest in it’s class, when the Corolla, Lancer, and i30 all date back to 2007?  The Holden Cruze is almost exactly the same age as the Mazda3, being released in May 2009.

        • Sydlocal

          The current Mazda3 may have a different “skin” that was released in 2009, but that is about it. It is still essentially the same as the 2004 model underneath, even the drivetrains haven’t changed much. 😉

  • bobby

    No 1 full line importer by 2013, dream on nissan

  • Robin_Graves

    It’ll just be a Pulsar designed by Renault and made by Samsung.  If it had the over-engineered driveline of the old Pulsars then maybe they could come back after 5 years of high reliability but thats not going to happen with anything to do with Renault.

  • save it for the track

    One thing that any manufacturer let alone Nissan needs to do is bring in fixed price servicing, such as Toyota has with Corolla. According to one recent multi car comparison (carsguide) that contributes to making the Corolla a winner. As that particular comparison noted, Mazda3 is the popular choice, Golf the quality at a price, Focus the fun. Of particular note is what that reviewer said. Along the lines of how most people don’t care how a car corners/handles. Comments such as messy dash, confusing switches, cabin like a cave, tiny satnav etc. all smack of octagenarian attitudes. If Nissan, or any maker made a vehicle to out handle Corolla (not hard, and already most do), have equal or superior interior space, priced at or just below, offer a superior warranty, and an equal or superior fixed price servicing plan. Surely even then superior vehicles would outsell Corolla.

    • Sydlocal

      All good points, however there already is a car in it’s class with less space, similar warranty, better handling and much higher servicing costs that is already outselling the Corolla. In other words, a car that you would call “less superior” from a “specs sheet” comparison point of view than the Corolla selling in higher numbers.
      It just demonstrates how fickle and unpredictable the motoring public are I guess and also proves that the better car doesn’t always sell the most. (note: I am NOT saying that the Corolla is a better car, more that the current segment sales leader is not the best car in it’s class)

  • GIG

    I just laughed.

  • john

    Why nissan dropped the Pulsar nameplate for tiida I will never understand? However after having the unfortunate experience of driving a tiida a few years ago I am glad nissan did not associate the name Pulsar with such an embarassing car. Maybe nissan knew something we did not. I remember a few series ago toyota was considering dropping the Corolla name for Auris instead. Good to see commonsense prevailed and toyota kept one of the worlds best selling nameplates!

  • Henry

    Cant wait for the SSS

  • Parma&Pot….


  • jekyl & hyde

    if their clever they will have quite a few different models.some vanilla,some luxury,most importantly some sports models to plaster on our t.v. screens.hope they are watching whats going to happen with the brz and ae86 models from toyota and subaru…

  • davie

    Nissan would have to deliver an amazing car to make people notice. It always sold in the past as something of a Corolla like car. Safe styling, japanese, reliable…

    That alone is no reason to buy a Pulsar anymore when there are so many alternatives on the market.