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Nissan’s new model onslaught

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    Nissan said it wants to quadruple sales of the Pulsar.

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Nissan plans 10 new cars and SUVs in next two years.

Nissan is poised to introduce a new model to its range every two-and-a-half months over the next two years, giving the company its best shot yet at becoming the biggest-selling import-only brand.

The new-model onslaught means new-car buyers can expect the record levels of competition to continue for the foreseeable future among the top-selling brands as they try to cash-in on Australia's booming economy.

Nissan currently ranks sixth on the new-car sales charts behind Toyota, Holden, Mazda, Hyundai and Ford. But it is closing in fast on Ford, which posted its seventh straight year of sales decline in 2012's record market.

Nissan posted all time record sales last year - overtaking its tally when it last made cars in Australia in 1992 - with a 17 per cent increase in a market that was up by 10 per cent. 

"If we achieve our (internal) business plan we may be leader...it's something that could happen down the road. But we need to grow further than we did last year," said Nissan Australia boss William Peffer.

Following the arrival of the Nissan Pulsar sedan this week, the hatch is due to arrive in showrooms by June, including the revival of the SSS hot hatch. 

Before then, however, there will be a refreshed version of the Micra small car, now sourced from India rather than Thailand or Indonesia and available as a 1.2-litre three-cylinder only.

Also due for a 2013 refresh in the next two months are the Nissan GT-R and 370Z sports-cars. But the bigger news is the arrival of the V6 petrol only Pathfinder seven-seat SUV sourced from the US, the unusually designed Nissan Juke hatchback SUV out of Europe, and the V6 Nissan Altima sedan which Nissan is basing its V8 Supercars campaign on, all of which are due by the end of this year.

Next year Nissan will completely overhaul its ute and SUV range, with all-new versions of the X-Trail and Dualis (which will be available with a diesel for the first time), and Murano luxury SUV, followed by an all-new and overdue Nissan Navara ute.

There is still no news on a diesel version of the new Patrol, which will go on sale next month as a V8 petrol only model priced between $85,000 and $115,000. And also no word on a diesel Pathfinder.

But Nissan is exploring options via its partners Renault and Mercedes-Benz, both of whom can supply heavy duty diesel engines if Nissan can come up with a business case to engineer and build them. Australia is the only key market for such vehicles as the US prefers petrol power.

Meanwhile, Nissan has backed away from its previously stated goal of challenging the top-selling small car. Nissan said it wants to quadruple sales of the Pulsar - but to overtake the Number One Mazda3 and second placed Toyota Corolla it would have to increase sales by 15 times last year's sales rate for the Tiida.

"I believe the question was posed at the time do you want to beat Corolla ... and the answer was yes. I'm not committing to that. Long term we'd like to be number one in the segment. Will we be? We will have to see how we go. This is a killer segment. We finally feel like we have an offering in this segment where we will do battle and we will do well," says Nissan Australia boss William Peffer.

"Our ability to be number one or leader in the segment is going to partly be dependent on what our competitors do. I don't expect them to lie down and let us just take a sale from them."

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling
 

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