Richard Emery, who has been the managing director and CEO of Nissan Australia for the last four months following on from a six-year stint as Mercedes-Benz Australia general manager of sales, first admitted the current Pulsar’s styling is letting it down.
“I think the practicalities of [current Australian] Pulsar – size-wise, practicality, engines, spec – it’s all there,” he began.
“[But] I think maybe some of the design has let it down, styling and design, particularly against the core competition.
“So it’s easy for us to look at what appears to be the new star in Hollywood which is the European Pulsar, would that fix our problems? It’s something we’ll look at, whether that would help us.”
He cautions, however, that the European Pulsar will likely be built only in Europe, and just as the UK-built Qashqai is more expensive to import than Thailand-made Nissans, the Pulsar Euro may be prohibitively costly.
“We’ll look at it, we’ll look at what’s available in terms of spec and timing. For us it’s not a done deal that we can take that car yet. We might be able to take it, but it might be too expensive, and that might be okay – instead of 1000 cars per month we’ll sell 500.
“So we’re having a good look at it, in August we’re heading to Japan to have a look. Externally it looks a step forward from the current car, which would enable us to re-present it to the marketplace.
“So certainly that’s something I’d like to see work.”
Emery defended the current Pulsar, however, confessing that Nissan Australia’s projections of 2000 cars per month was a case of “rose-coloured glasses”.
“I think the problem is that everyone’s got into a bit of a negative impression of Pulsar, because of when we launched what our expectations were in terms of volume versus the competition,” he said.
“When I look back now as an outsider coming in, at the business plan for Pulsar, I said ‘so you really think that car was going to be number one in its segment? You told the network you were going to do 2000 [cars] per month and you’re doing 1200, this is a failure.
“If you’d been honest with yourself and said that’s probably good enough to do 1250 units per month, you’re fourth in the segment, then you’d be sitting here saying it’s a success.”
Yet Emery says he is changing the culture within Nissan from a “stressed” selling environment where the brand is “apologetic” for its products and desperately discounts them to compensate.
“It was about saying guys, take your rose-coloured glasses off, even to Japan,” he continued.
“Saying, guys, I know what you think, but realistically this car is worth this much volume and that’s the business model we should put in place.
“Because the supply and demand model in this business … if you get it wrong, you find you’re always on sale.
“I think that Pulsar was a challenge from day one with the expectations that we had, so we now need to ‘right-size’ Pulsar and we’ll be looking at Pulsar in a different light.”