Nissan’s performance brand, Nismo, has sold more than 30,000 cars globally since its official introduction as a manufacturer in 2013, but it remains absent in Australia.
The Nissan Motorsport company was brought in under Nissan’s wings and set to focus on creating performance models of everyday Nissan cars, where it had traditionally just concentrated on tuner modifications and the mighty GT-R.
The likes of Nissan GT-R, 370Z, Juke, Micra, Pulsar (concept) and Note (Europe only) have all been given the Nismo treatment and despite Nissan Australia having repeatedly confirmed that Nismo's growing range of cars are indeed coming, the roll out process appears to be more complicated than it seems from the outside.
Speaking to CarAdvice at the Nismo Festival in Mount Fuji in Japan today, Darren Cox, Nismo’s global head of brand marketing and sales, said the issue is not a lack of capacity but the challenges of homologation, dealership training and the actual roll out.
“What we need to figure out is the roll out. You can think it’s easy but the regulations and homologations [are not], which car, which engine, I think that’s our major focus at the moment.” Cox said.
According to Cox, getting the Nismo product to Australia is only part of the journey as the dedicated sales and service experience needs to be there to support the brand as well.
“It’s not just the product, it’s making sure the service side is there. If you think about GT-R Nismo, even standard GT-R, there’s a huge amount of training needed to be done to the sales and after sales.”
The plan for Australia’s Nismo roll out would see specialist GT-R dealers dedicate a section of their showroom to Nismo cars, with regular Nissan dealers unlikely to carry the lineup.
“We want the customer experience from a brand point of view for Nismo to be good, it’s not just selling Nismo outside of any standard showroom, it has to be specialists salesmen that understands the special experience [the customers are seeking].”
In Japan and Europe, GT-R trained dealers are creating Nismo performance centres with specially trained staff to cater to the enthusiast audience that seeks Nismo vehicles. Of the more than 3000 Nissan dealerships in Europe, only 65 have been selected for the task.
“It’s not just about bringing the car, it’s about making the right experience for the customer as well. They expect a different experience going to the showroom. It’s not something that can happen overnight.”
In Australia there are currently only 11 dealerships equipped to sell the GT-R, those are the most likely candidates to be upgraded to take on Nismo tuned vehicles when they finally arrive.
So far Nissan Australia remains tightlipped on an actual schedule for the arrival of Nismo vehicles, but we believe it would be unlikely if work on specialised dealerships hadn't started by the end of 2015.