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Nissan Australia sees opportunity in the wake of Holden exit, Honda restructure

The Navara ute is Nissan Australia's best-selling model year to date, just slightly ahead of the ageing Qashqai SUV.

Nissan Australia is set to capitalise on the exit of Holden from the local market, hoping to snag some of the former-leading brand’s sales share that accounted for just over four per cent of overall volume last year.

In raw numbers, Holden sold 43,176 units in 2019, placing it as the 10th most-popular brand, while Nissan sold 50,575 vehicles for seventh position.

Speaking with CarsGuide, Nissan Australia boss Stephen Lester said its robust SUV line-up is key for its plans to capture more customers.

“I think anytime that you see a reduction in the competitors or competitor models, there will be opportunity, and I think we’re really well positioned with regard to some of the opportunity,” he said.

“When you look at our line-up, we play in most of the key segments, so obviously very strong from an SUV perspective, strong from a ute perspective, against some of the other competition.

“I think with our balanced channel mix approach, we’ll aim to be at the table for every single conversation, be it in retail, fleet or otherwise.”

Nissan Australia currently counts nine nameplates in its stable, the majority if which are SUVs including the Juke, Qashqai, X-Trail and Pathfinder, while the Navara plays in the popular ute market.

Over the next 18 months, Nissan will also bring out all-new versions of the Juke, Qashqai and X-Trail to keep its portfolio fresh, while the next-generation 370Z sports car and hardcore GT-R are also in the works.

The all-electric Leaf also adds another string to Nissan’s bow, which is due for a revision and the introduction of the e+ variant that adds around 40 per cent extra driving range.

Holden’s exit isn’t the only opportunity for Nissan however, with Honda Australia shifting away from dealers in favour of an agency sales model that will halve its volume by the end of next year.

For reference, Honda finished ninth last year with 42,868 sales.

No doubt Nissan Australia isn’t the only brand sizing up the void left by the changing automotive landscape in Australia, but after three months of trading, most marques are struggling to break new ground in an unstable climate.

Mr Lester however, reiterated Nissan’s commitment to right-hand-drive production – contrasting General Motors’ decision in February to withdraw from all RHD markets, killing Holden.

“As a company globally, we are still fully supportive of right-hand-drive production,” he said.

“I think the announcements recently for the Sunderland plant, which reflect a major investment there, bode very well for Nissan’s continued focus on the Australian and New Zealand markets.”

The aforementioned Sunderland plant in the UK produces the Qashqai, Juke and Leaf for the Australia, as well as its home market.

When asked if Nissan Australia had thought about adopting a new sales model like Honda, Mr Lester replied: “100 per cent no.

“We are wholly committed to our active, engaged and valued network of 180-plus dealers in Australia, and in that, we will remain so,” he said.