Nissan Australia has announced its plan of attack for the next 15 months, confirming that four completely new models will join the local line up during 2012 and the first quarter of 2013.
The Leaf EV will mark a milestone for Nissan Australia as its first all-electric offering, while the gargantuan V8-powered Y62 Patrol will sit at the opposite end of the size and eco-friendliness scale
The Leaf will be the first off the rank, launching here in June 2012 with a retail price of $51,500. The order books open in February, and only one model grade will be offered.
With an extensive equipment list that features satellite navigation and a sophisticated telematics system as standard, Nissan Australia believes consumers will place it higher on the value-for-money scale than its competitor, the $48,800 Mitsubishi iMiEV.
The Leaf's purchase price includes the cost of its lithium-ion battery pack, although a faster 15-amp charging cable - which is recommended by Nissan - will cost extra.
Despite a lack of government support in the form of incentives and rebates for EVs, Nissan has high hopes that the Leaf will establish the Japanese automaker as the zero-emissions leader in Australia.
In the fourth quarter of next year, Nissan Australia will debut the Almera light sedan.
Although light sedan sales tend to be much lower than those of light hatches, Nissan is confident that having a sedan-bodied partner to the increasingly-popular Micra will prove a winning strategy.
Nissan Australia's Senior Model Line Manager Darren Holland told TMR that with light sedans currently accounting for around ten percent of sales in the segment, introducing the Almera would be a more than worthwhile exercise for Nissan Australia.
In excess of 113,000 light cars were sold here last year and segment sales have already exceeded that number for 2011.
Provided the Micra continues to sell at its current rate of 800-900 cars per month, Nissan hopes that the arrival of the Almera will help take its overall light car sales over the 10,000 unit mark next financial year.
The big new Y62 Patrol will arrive in the first quarter of 2013, and with the only powertrain option being a 5.7 litre petrol V8, Nissan Australia is not expecting it to become a big seller.
Instead, it will give Nissan a presence at the upper end of the off-roader market, offering more luxury and greater refinement than the existing Y61 Patrol.
In the absence of a diesel engine for the Y62 Patrol, the Y61 will instead to be sold alongside its newer stablemate - albeit as a much more utilitarian offering.
Finally, the most important new model on the horizon is the Pulsar hatch and sedan, launching here in late 2012 or early 2013.
With the Tiida presently going unnoticed in the marketplace and only commanding a 1.5 percent share of total small car sales, Nissan has high hopes that the arrival of the Pulsar will revive its fortunes in the booming small hatch and sedan segment.
Not only that, but Nissan Australia hopes the Pulsar will unseat the Mazda3 as the number-one selling small car on the market. It will need to, if Nissan is to achieve its goal of beating Hyundai and Mazda as the highest-selling fully-imported brand in Australia by the end of March 2013.
Over the past year, Nissan's sales growth has been promising, with overall market share rising from 6.0 percent at this time last year to 6.7 percent year-to-date.
The flexibility of Nissan's global supply lines paid dividends in the wake of the Thailand floods, allowing Nissan to re-source its volume-selling Navara models from Spain and Japan.
This gave the company a significant edge, given the majority of the Navara's competitors are built in Thailand.
Consequently, overall Navara sales are up this year, and the Micra - which switched its sourcing from Thailand to Indonesia this year - is also selling in higher volumes.
Dualis sales are also expected to be given a significant shot in the arm mid next year, when the long-awaited diesel Dualis arrives.
Will the Pulsar be enough to bump Nissan up to the top of the importer list? The Tiida isn't doing much to drive up Nissan's small car market share, so the arrival of a fresher, more attractive product (in the highest-selling segment, no less), should give Nissan a massive leg-up.
Enough to make it the top importer by the start of Q2, 2013? We'll have to wait and see.
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