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Nissan eyes top spot in Australia

Nissan expects the unknown Altima sedan to become Australia’s favourite mid-size import in 2014.

Nissan says it also plans to overtake Mazda as Australia’s favourite full-line importer in the next 12 months. But wait, there’s more. Nissan expects the unknown Altima sedan to become Australia’s favourite mid-size import in 2014, vanquishing established players like the Honda Accord Euro, Mazda6, Hyundai i45 and Subaru Liberty in the process. 

“Our stated goal is to be Australia’s number one full-line importer by March 2013,” Nissan’s sales chief Ian Moreillon told Carsguide, “and we are still on target to achieve this". 

“With the plans we have in place, we certainly have the potential to grow our sales significantly over the next 12 months.” Moreillon said car companies that “pulled their development horns in” during the 2009 Global Financial Crisis will be at a disadvantage. “Unlike some of our rivals, we continued to spend on product development during the GFC at the expense of other areas of the business.” 

So far in 2012 Nissan has sold 19,902 new cars, up nine percent on the same period last year, but still a long way behind Mazda’s 26,513. Moreillon believes a flood of new models from July this year will sweep Nissan past Mazda by this time next year. 

The Leaf electric car arrives first followed by the Micra-based Almera compact sedan in August, and the next-generation Patrol large four-wheel drive near Christmas. Early next year, Nissan’s weak passenger car portfolio gets a huge lift with the Pulsar’s return after a six-year absence.

The new Pulsar debuted at the Shanghai show in April last year and will replace the under-performing Tiida as Nissan’s rival to popular small cars like the Mazda3, Toyota Corolla and Holden Cruze. 

Moreillon echoed outgoing CEO Dan Thompson’s statement that “Pulsar (will) be number one in its segment”. For Nissan, that could mean a twelve-fold increase in its small car sales from the Tiida’s 270 per month to more than the 3,500 per month that the Mazda3 consistently achieves. 

Pulsar will be followed by the Altima mid-size sedan which will also form the basis of Nissan’s V8 Supercar racing entry. “The Altima is a critical car for Nissan both in Australia and globally,” said Moreillon. “It’s the second-best selling passenger car in America and we believe it can be the best-selling imported car in its segment in Australia.” 

In a global first for Nissan, the Altima race car will debut at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide some six months ahead of the production car’s expected arrival in showrooms in November 2013. “Our participation in V8 Supercars will help us create a profile for the Altima,” Moreillon told CarsGuide at the Altima’s global reveal at the New York motor show this week. 

Moreillon believes the Altima can carve 600 sales a month from the medium-car market, which would make it the best-selling import model, and second only to the locally-built Toyota Camry.