4.8 per cent market share simply isn't enough
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Nissan knows its market coverage in Australia isn’t sufficient, but says it’ll add a number of models to meet tough targets in the future.

The company is sporting a lean range at the minute, having recently axed the under-performing Micra, Pulsar, Altima and Y61 Patrol diesel, leaving it under-indexed in the shrinking – but still big-volume – passenger market.

Australian sales fell 15 per cent to 56,594 units last year, with over 90 per cent of its volume coming from Qashqai, X-Trail and Pathfinder, and the Navara.

The brand's market share was 7.2 per cent in 2012. Last year it was 4.8 per cent.

Last June, Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn — arguably the most powerful figure in the automotive world — visited Australia and unleashed.

“I have a hard time understanding why Nissan cannot make more than six per cent market share in Australia,” he said.

Since then, the Australian arms of all three Alliance brands (mentioned above) have new local managing directors.

Nissan’s marketing and sales VP for the Asia and Oceania region, Vincent Wijnen, told us this week that the wheels were in motion.

“It sounds strange but we phased out some models for a number of reasons so we knew we’d get a dip. We did consciously say we had to focus much clearer on a product strategy that’s sustainable for the future as well.

"SUVs is one core part of it but that will not be enough to get the growth that Mr Ghosn expects. So we will be adding product to our range including electrification and our aspiration definitely more than we have today.”

Naturally, we asked for something a little clearer.

“We cannot wait forever, we also have a dealer network that needs product as well. We are not talking about a very long time when we start bringing in additional product,” he answered.

“We normally work on mid-term plans of 3-5 year cycles, but we are already working for quite some time now to make sure additional product comes… it’s a combination of things, a big proportion of your market is still what you call passenger cars. We have solutions for that including EV and e-Power.”

Wijnen later added the controversial decision not to develop the (China-only) Navara-based Terra 4x4 rival to the Ford Everest for Australia was also being reconsidered.

“You’re absolutely right there’s an opportunity… we have to look at it,” he said.

“I have to say we are re-looking at the product plan as we always do, and looking at what would be the best mix.. we have a history being strong in that space so it would be a pity to let that go, and particularly for the rural dealers, it’s important."

Nissan Australia’s head, Stephen Lester, about five-months into his role, said the brand needs to have cars in more segments.

“As far as plans go we are actively working with Japan to facilitate product we can deliver in Australia as quickly as possible. I’ve been on the ground for basically five months and got a fairly clear understanding of the company here, the network, consumer expectations and now we are working to re-tool our mid-term plan and address our growth expectations.

“We’re going to investigate channel management… and look at what products we physically need to cover the market better than we do today.

“[Dealers] rightly have an expectation that we will deliver a return on their investment…”

So what can we expect? We know the Series III Navara is weeks away, while the second-generation Leaf EV lobs by year-end.

But it'll be 2019/2020 before things really pick up, with a number of new global offerings on Alliance platforms expected to fill voids in the small car space, in particular. Alas, Nissan is keeping things very under wraps.