Nissan Australia managing director Stephen Lester has confirmed the company’s focus in Australia will move towards EVs and SUVs, having today announced Nissan will pull out of the Supercars championship at the end of 2018.
Citing that there are “other priorities” and that “strategies have changed” for Nissan Australia, Lester said the brand will put the spotlight on positioning itself as a technology leader.
“Since my arrival we’ve taken stock of the market and what the possibilities would be,” Lester said. “There are currently no plans to consider other vehicles for racing in Supercars. We have aligned our strategy to focus on EVs, SUVs and Nissan Intelligent Mobility.”
The company had been umming and ahhing on the potential for cars like its Leaf EV to succeed in the local market, but Lester stated the Leaf will come here because “the product strategy continues to evolve”.
“We will explore all opportunities - this is a fantastic brand of ours, and where we see products that we see fit for Australian consumers we will be more than happy to offer them in Australia,” Lester said.
Whether that could mean the relaunch of a full range of passenger cars, rather than the pared back line-up of today which consists of several SUVs, the Navara ute range and two sports cars - the 370Z and GT-R - remains to be seen.
The question was put to Lester as to whether the company is considering models such as the Micra, Pulsar and Altima for relaunch locally, but he wasn’t willing to state categorically what the plans are.
“As product plans go, it is a fluid process. My personal direction is not to abandon passenger cars. And we will see the Nissan Leaf on sale later this fiscal year, and from that you can see we will bring passenger cars back to the market.
“With all product decisions, we will entertain opportunities to bring those vehicles to market. Whether that means the new-generation Altima will come or not is yet to be confirmed.”
The decision for Nissan to leave Supercars won't mean there won't be an Altima on the track next year. The Kelly Bros racing team will continue with the mid-sized Nissan sedan as its racer in 2019, but it won't be officially backed by Nissan.
The Altima - like the Falcon and previous-gen Commodore - aren't available for consumers to buy anymore. Nissan put the axe to Altima in April 2017, as well as chopping the Pulsar from its ranks.
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