Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Richard Emery asserted to CarAdvice that the company's new ute won’t directly target the HiLux, which has sat at the top of the sales charts for more than a decade - despite the new NP300 Navara range being offered in a whopping 27 different variants.
“It’s not a target for us to try to overtake HiLux,” Emery said, ruling out a challenge to the segment leader. "Our best year previously with Navara was in the mid-20,000 sales mark, around 25,000. It’s fair to say Toyota has created a very unique situation within some parts of the utility segment.”
Emery put it in such a way that most buyers may not have thought of - for example, a mining operation in remote Australia with a fleet of around 200 HiLux utility vehicles.
“That company has a shed full of HiLux spare parts, and a team of mechanics who know so much about HiLuxes they could rebuild them in their sleep. Trying to break that cycle with a company like that is extremely difficult,” he said, and those buyers would potentially re-buy a HiLux, with the new-generation model (pictured above) coming later this year.
“So, we’re not expecting, or indeed aiming, to be number one,” Emery said “We want to get our share of the segment, we want to do the business at our level and our economics, but we’re not chasing volume just for volume’s sake.”
CarAdvice pressed Emery on a sales figure that would make him happy on the back of the launch of the first all-new Navara in a decade, asserting that “1700 to 2000 cars a month would make us happy”.
“If we can get back to the glory days of Navara - the vehicle never beat HiLux then - and I don’t think chasing HiLux just for the sake of it would be good for our business now either.”
Following our launch drive, we commented that the new NP300 Navara will certainly appeal to existing owners and fans of the Nissan brand, but wondered whether it could attract important new buyers to help bolster that sales figure.
“I think this car will meet the expectations of our existing Navara owners, that’s true,” Emery said. “We will definitely keep them in the family. I think this new model is a broader based product offering than the old Navara by some margin.”
Emery went on to explain that in his opinion the old Navara was much more agricultural, less refined, and more about working substance than style. “This new vehicle is much more stylish, much more dynamic, and that suits buyers in this segment who are looking for more sophistication,” he said.
“The old Navara was definitely more old-fashioned and basic all round. We’re moving to where the segment and buyers are moving. The new Navara is more high tech, has more luxury features, more comfort, and gives buyers a broader choice. Our aim was to make Navara more modern than it’s ever been and we feel that will appeal to new buyers.”