Nissan's SUV-focused Australian range is set to continue flying the flag for the Japanese carmaker locally, although passenger cars could yet make a comeback.
Even the Leaf electric car range has been waiting in the wings for the all-new model to be released.
But it was at the launch of the new Leaf in Japan that Nissan Head Of Asia And Oceania, Yutaka Sanada, reminded us that the carmaker hasn't given up on passenger cars just yet.
“We are preparing the next step of our plan because we have significant passenger car customers in Australia,” Sanada said. “We have the product and we have a plan for the future but it’s not ready yet [to be made public].”
Asked how he intended to turnaround Nissan’s sales in Australia, Sanada said the focus would remain on SUVs and the new safety and technology features, such as autonomous driving, introduced under the ‘Intelligent Mobility’ branding with the new Leaf.
“We are always intending to expand our presence in a territory,” he said.
“I think we have a strong SUV line-up - X-Trail, Qashqai, Pathfinder and Patrol - so I think, knowing our worldwide presence in several markets, we believe we can attract more customers. Not just in product but also in marketing actions or some specific features, such as Intelligent Mobility, can attract customers.”
Vincent Wijnen, in charge of sales and marketing for the Asia and Oceania region, revealed that Nissan is working on a plan to reintroduce passenger cars, aside from the Leaf, but wouldn’t give details on what models and timing.
Asked directly about the chances of the Pulsar returning before the current generation is due for replacement in 2019, Wijnen was non-committal.
“We cannot be that specific,” Wijnen said. “But the point is we’re working now on the product line-up to make sure it is further strengthened in the passage of time.”
But he added the brand was committed to passenger cars in Australia, despite its current success built around SUVs.
“We will not win the volume game with just the Leaf, we must have a range that matches the Australian customer,” Wijnen said.
“But we have clearly chosen that in SUV we want to be strong, because as a company that’s where our strength is. But that doesn’t mean we’re not looking at other options in the range to further drive that growth in the... I would call it mid-term. But mid-term isn’t very long in the car industry.”
The Japanese brand parted ways with Nissan Australia CEO Richard Emery in August, only months after the global head of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, Carlos Ghosn, said the company could “do much better” in Australia.
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