Nissan SA plans to introduce the Micra, 350Z and perhaps even the Murano SUV in the near future, but the company won’t rush new ranges into showrooms just because it can, says vice-president of marketing Roel de Vries.

Nissan SA plans to introduce the Micra, 350Z and perhaps even the Murano SUV in the near future, but the company won’t rush new ranges into showrooms just because it can, says vice-president of marketing Roel de Vries.


Speaking to CARtoday.com on Wednesday, De Vries said that because the Almera and X-Trail were successful (both models lie second in their respective segments in terms of sales), Nissan SA intended to expand its market share in new segments.


But before Nissan SA offered new models to the some-might-say fickle South African public, it would ensure that a range would be sustainable, profitable and excited customers. “There are too many model derivatives on the market, all of which require marketing budgets and incur stock and logistical costs, that sell less than 50 units a month,” said De Vries.


Geniel de Villiers won the South African touring car championship four years in a row in a Nissan Primera. But the medium saloon was never popular in South Africa, despite gaining success in motorsport and achieving critical acclaim in Europe. De Vries said the Primera struggled because its sales volumes did not justify the significant financial commitment Nissan had made to roll out the product. Furthermore, fluctuations in the exchange rate drastically reduced the Primera’s competitiveness in the tough medium saloon market.


The much-admired 350Z sport coupé has been keenly awaited since it was unveiled at last year’s Auto Africa Motor Show. Right-hand drive versions of the model will go into production in Japan around September and in South Africa, Nissan has 350 customers on the waiting list.


“We intend to launch the 350Z as soon as we can, it could be at the end of the year or early in 2004,” said De Vries. “But because the vehicle is ‘a toy’ it will probably have a spike in demand in the initial stages and then show a steady decline…


“To counter this, we will import only as many cars as there is demand for and in the long run ensure that demand outstrips supply. After all, of the 350 potential customers on the waiting list, some might opt to buy another product or decide that the price does not suit them,” De Vries added.


Nissan SA will also vie for the subcompact market in South Africa with the Micra next year. The little car had its first outing at the Paris Motor Show at the end of September last year and if the exchange rate permitted, the Micra could be imported cost effectively.


Last year, a Nissan SA spokesman said the company was looking for products to bring to South Africa. “We are looking at the Micra and how we can bring it here,” he said. “We want the Micra, we need an entry-level car and it’s just a matter of making the numbers work”.


Nissan SA has not competed in the small-car market because its local holding company, Automakers, owned the Fiat franchise in South Africa. But Fiat Auto and Nissan SA realised that customers’ tastes in vehicles were so divergent and particular that it was pointless to not launch a vehicle because it would compete directly against a model from another brand, such as the case with the Fiat Palio and Nissan Micra, De Vries said.


De Vries concluded that Nissan SA was also investigating the possibility of introducing the Murano SUV, which is bigger than the Patrol, in South Africa. The Murano was one of the finalists of the American car and truck of the year competition last year.

Original article from Car