Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.

6 New Nissan Models Launched Review

    Paris (ots/PRNewswire) -

    - Brian Carolin, Senior Vice President Sales and Marketing - Nissan  Europe

    The Nissan 180 plan appears to be a success, are you pleased with Nissan Europe's contribution to the strategy?

    Brian Carolin: Certainly for me the 2005 highlight was the European contribution to Nissan 180. We more than delivered on our commitment, exceeding our base figure by 7,000 units. The fact that we had six new product launches was helpful but the pleasing thing was that we over-achieved.

    With six new product launches in 2005, you must be pleased with the results -- Murano especially (10,000 sales v target of 6,000) despite its EUR45k price tag and petrol-only engine.

    BC: With Murano we delivered 50% more than the sales plan although the numbers were actually quite small. The point is, though, they were achieved without a diesel engine in a market segment dominated by diesels.

    Navara was another successful launch. It is currently the most selling Pick Up in Europe. How will that be maintained through 2006 with new products from your competitors?

    We sometimes scare ourselves with success at Nissan. The key to the success of Navara is that it is the best product in the segment so why should we be afraid of the opposition? It is very powerful, great looking and has been given a great reception. We would expect it to continue as number one in the segment in 2006, we had some difficulty with supplies early in 2005 which limited sales but we should have no such difficulties in the new year.

    Pathfinder got off to a slow start. Are you pleased with its sales performance?

    Yes, Pathfinder did have a difficult first couple of months but maybe our launch plans were a bit aggressive - we built in a climb pattern that was incompatible with the sales plan. Once we had overcome that we have done very well with the vehicle and have a lot of reasons to be confident about its future.

    Micra C+C is being launched across Europe., What are your hopes for it?

    Micra C+C came into the market late in the year and to be honest we were not able to advertise it as we would have liked to but we are very positive and still expect to sell around 20,000 units in Europe during 2006. It is a great addition to the line up with bags of personality and it has given a lift to the whole Micra range. It is too early to speculate on sales results after less than a month of presence at dealers, but the enthusiastic reaction from the media who testdrove the car is really promising.

    Z Roadster is another halo model launched in 2005. How valuable is its role in reinforcing the brand image?

    This car is critical in terms of demonstrating Nissan's potential in the sports segment and it is a global success story. It has been successful in all the countries where it is sold and plays a very useful role in preparing the ground for the launch of GT-R in the future - the most extreme expression of our capability to produce world class sports cars.

    Nissan has won more 30 product awards across Europe in 2005. What do they mean to Nissan and how important are they?

    The awards are always welcome and add credibility to the claims we make about our vehicles. They also give us great confidence, for example, with the Navara for next year, particularly with new rival models coming out. It has won awards in key volume markets such as UK, Spain and France and it is always pleasing when the models we have launched are acknowledged.

    NOTE is your next big launch. How important is NOTE to Nissan in 2006?

    NOTE is a key volume product for us in 2006. In 2005 we launched six new products but they were all relatively small volume vehicles. With NOTE we are expected to sell 90,000 units in the first year which is a big volume. It is a key model not only in terms of keeping Almera customers but also in conquesting sales from other manufacturers. We expect around 70% of customers for this vehicle to come from other brands and a vehicle that will draw people from both the B- and C-segment vehicles - B-segment customers looking to upgrade and C-segment customers looking for more value. Dealers have already seen the car and they are very confident that they can win new customers with NOTE and they see a lot of opportunities for the vehicle.

    Your growth in Russia has been quite strong. What's your outlook for this market?

    If you add Ukraine to the equation it will be our second biggest market in Europe in 2006. Market growth in Russia has helped us and we benefit from the fact that we are a Japanese brand which tends to be associated with a good reputation among Russian consumers. We have done very well with Almera, X-TRAIL and Pathfinder and we have very high expectations for the Infiniti brand when we launch in 2006. What is also very pleasing is the strength of the dealer network which we are in the process of re-structuring. There has been a tendency to rely on the major areas in and around Moscow and St Petersburg and we are now extending out into the regions. Dealers are making money and are investing in upgraded facilities and new outlets around the country. Having studied the market we are also looking to tailor specific products and even have unique products for the Russian market including a compact vehicle next year which will be built by Renault Samsung in South Korea.

    After such a busy year, what will be the priorities and goals for 2006?

    The NOTE launch is obviously going to be very important and will dominate a lot of our marketing spend and activities. Then there is the introduction of Infiniti in Russia and the further development of our LCV business. Following that is the ongoing work with the dealer network and we have some significant plans for major cities such as Paris, Milan, Turin and Madrid. We are looking to dis-invest from owning our own dealers and attract large, profitable companies to occupy key areas and so we are looking at how we can maximise the territories for them.

    And for the longer term, what are Nissan Europe's challenges and opportunities?

    The key is Value-Up. We have turned around the European operations and we have returned profitability and we did that under Nissan 180. This year we will show record profits for Europe and in 2006 and 2007 we need to build on that success. We have achieved the profit turnaround in Europe without actually growing our market share. Volumes throughout Nissan 180 remained flat at around 540,000 vehicles a year. The important objective for Value-Up is to continue to improve profitability and built up our volume. Particularly important in helping us achieve this in 2006 and 2007 will be the launch of NOTE and P32L ( production version of Qashqai shown in Geneva '04).While Nissan 180 was all about running our older models and replacing them with new and becoming more profitable, we are now looking to grow volume with all-new vehicles. We still see ourselves as a 'challenge' brand and so we are still relatively small and need to find a point of difference in the market place. Getting back into profit puts us in a much better position to fight for global resources. We have demonstrated that we can make money and on that basis we have a case for more investment. What we need to avoid is trying to compete head-on with the major players, we do not want to get into the areas of heavy discounting or fleet sales. Value-Up will allow us to grow and allow the network to improve so that dealers also improve their profits and in turn invest in facilities and staff - they should benefit in the same way that we do.

                    Non exhaustive list of awards won by the 6 new products
                                          launched by Nissan in 2005.

    Murano: The Most Beautiful Automobile in the World in the Crossover and SUV category, international jury composed of architects, art historians, artists, stylists and directors of car magazines specialized in design (Italy); Car of the year by Playboy (Poland); Top of Range MOTOR DE OURO 2005 Magazine ELES&ELAS (Portugal)

    Pathfinder: 4x4 of the Year: Middleweight Group 4x4, magazine (UK); Best SUV of the Year by readers of 4WD - Internationales Allradmagazin (Austria); Car of the Year 2005 in the 4x4 category (Latvia); Golden Klaxon award, by Klaxon magazine as best Pure Off Road Car of the year (Russia); Début of the Year, Annual professional award of auto journalists (Russia)

    350Z Roadster: High performance car of the year, by ALTAS PRESTACIONES (Spain); Cabrio of the Year 2005 at Geneva Motor Show; Best sport car at Kiev International Motor Show (Ukraine); Car of the month August in AutoBild Sportcars (Germany); Cabrio Sport Car of the year in the category Value for Price (Hungary); Sport car MOTOR DE OURO 2005 Magazine ELES&ELAS (Portugal)

    Navara King Cab / Double Cab: Best Pick Up, What a van? (UK); Best Pickup Fleet World (UK); Double Cab of the Year, What Double Cab? (UK); Accessory list of the year, What Double Cab? (UK); PICK UP OF THE YEAR, by TODO TERRENO MAGAZINE (Spain); LCV of the year by L'Argus de l'Automobile (France); Pick Up of the Year , Val d'Isére Motor show (France); Pick Up of the year by 4x4 Plus Magazine (Belgium);

    Micra Minor Change and C+C: # 1 Choice of the Year 2005 (Ukraine); Compact Car of the Year 2005 by Kampioen, the magazine of the Dutch automobile association (NL)

    Brand: 4x4 Manufacturer of the Year by 4x4 and MPV Driver magazine (UK); Automotive Industry Manager of the Year voted by AutoRevista for José Vicente de los Mozos, Nissan Motor Ibérica's Managing Director (Spain); Best 4X4 P.R. & Communication Strategy at Val d'Isère Motor show (France); Best network by Interauto News (Italy)

      Contact:
      Penny Szczepaniak, Corporate Communications,
      Nissan Europe
      +33-1-30-13-57-87,
      E-mail: pszczepaniak@nissan-europe.com.
      Gilles Gautherot, Corporate Communications,
      Nissan Europe
      +33-1-30-13-67-67,
      E-mail: ggautherot@nissan-europe.com

ots Originaltext: Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
Im Internet recherchierbar: http://www.presseportal.ch

Contact:
Penny Szczepaniak Corporate Communications, Nissan Europe
+33-1-30-13-57-87, E-mail: pszczepaniak@nissan-europe.com. Gilles
Gautherot, Corporate Communications, Nissan Europe -
+33-1-30-13-67-67, E-mail: ggautherot@nissan-europe.com



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