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Nissan aims for top spot

It is not aiming for first overall, but believes it can overtake Mazda, Hyundai and Mitsubishi to become the country's favourite all- import brand. Nissan is already doing better with everything from the supercar GT-R to the Maxima, 370Z and Murano, and believes the next-generation Tiida - which could revert to the Pulsar name when it lands in 2011 - will push it to the top.

"Our market apsiration is to be the number one full importer in this company. That's the objective for 2012," says Dan Thompson, managing director of Nissan Australia.

"Where we sit now is number two or number three. Mazda is now clearly the number one . . . in recent times Hyundai has joined the party so we have three players vying for that spot. We want to leapfrog Mazda by 2012, with two years of brand building and the next generation of cars."

It sounds like a big call, and it will not be easy, but Thompson believes Nissan will have the vehicles to get the numbers for position one. "This business isn't rocket science. You have the right products ... and the rest ... and you have market success," he says.

Thompson says the next piece of the product puzzle, following the front-wheel drive Dualis price fighter revealed last week, is the Z Roadster. "It's all falling into place. The results are being delivered just as we had planned," he says. "The goal is to be sitting at six per cent. We were at 5.9 last year." It won't dramatically change in fiscal 2010 until the core volume volume models - that's the new Micra and Tiida - arrive."

Nissan has tagged its plan as GT2012, but it's not just about numbers. "G is for growth and T is for trust," Thompson says. "The GT-R is a fantastic story. It's not about volume, it's about branding. We sold 300 cars but we had 20,000 visitors to our site each week to check out the car.

"Murano, Maxima, Z and GT-R have far exceeded our planning. The Dualis is the fifth piece." He says the biggest problem for Nissan in 2009 is getting sufficient stock of its biggest sellers, including the Navara. "We're restrained by limitations on stock. Even outside of that the big challenge for all of us is what is the natural level of demand."