Nissan Hoping for Sales Growth with E20, Eco Car and Single Cab Navara

Nissan are not exactly racking up the sales in Thailand, and with a mere 40,000 units sold in the Kingdom in 2007, Nissan will be hoping that 2008 will be a better year. Of course industry sales were lower than forecast in 2007, with just 630,000 units sold, mostly due to the political climate.

Nissan Navara

But it is a new year, and Nissan are hoping that post-election stability will lead to increased consumer confidence, and perhaps a spending frenzy. But naturally they won't be sitting by and waiting for the sales to pour in. Here's what they have planned.....

Yes... E20 (sorry if this is getting boring)

Ah yes, Nissan have also joined the "We have cars that can run the E20 fuel" brigade. The Tiida and Teana will both support E20 fuel and so will also enjoy the 5% tax reduction that is now in effect. While Nissan is not the only company to comply with the regulations and receive this benefit, there is a high likelihood that sales will increase on the back of the E20 hype.

And although Nissan will be joining Ford, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi and others in the E20 camp, there are still some notable absences: Toyota and Chevrolet, both have yet to announce E20 strategies. Although we have to assume that this will be happening pretty soon.

So, the E20 Tiida and Teana will, at best, keep Nissan competitive in those segments.

Single Cab Navara

The Nissan Navara has been moderately successful for Nissan. The truck has everything going for it. Pleanty of power from its 174 hp 2.5 litre engine, it looks great, is well featured and well priced. But that just isn't enough to win big sales in Thailand in that segment against Toyota and Isuzu, particularly when sales are down and the giants are not willing to even let scraps fall to the smaller players.

So far the Navara has only been available in Double Cab (4 door) or King Cab (2 doors with mini suicide-doors providing access to the rear bench seat) variants. The biggest selling segment exists for the single cab market with trucks being used to do actual hauling work, requiring the longer cargo bed.

The addition of the Single Cab Navara will open up a new channel for Nissan, but sales will depend largely on the price/service/value mix that Nissan can offer. Buyers in this segment are not interested in road presence!

Eco Car plans

Probably not something that will have any impact in 2008, but Nissan was the second automaker (after Honda) to be approved for the Eco Car project. They have a planned investment of THB 5.5 billion in the project with plans to export 75% to Australia and SE Asia, with 25% being retained for sail in the local market.

Details on Eco Car models are still sketchy, although it is fun to speculate. Nissan are planning to develop a 1.2 litre petrol engine that will be E20 compliant, and that would likely meet the Eco Car requirements also.

Anything Else?

Nissan doesn't exactly have the most amazing line-up in Thailand. The X-Trail is nearing end-of-life and the all-new-2008 model is already out in other markets. If Nissan plans to stay in the SUV game, the would need to roll that one out soon to compete with the popular Honda CR-V, and the very capable Chevrolet Captive, now with a tidy 2.0 diesel engine.

The Tiida has been a disappointment to Nissan, with lower than expected sales, despite price drops, and aggressive sales promotion efforts. The Tiida is a bit awkward in the it doesn't really belong in either of the popular segments, failing to compete on price with the Vios/City, and failing to compete on size and power with the Civic/Altis, it is sort of out-at-sea.

Nissan is researching the B-segment, and considering further investment. This is going to get very competitive with Ford and Mazda both on the way into that arena, and Hyundai could also launch into that segment also.

Things haven't been easy for Nissan in Thailand, and they will have to work very hard to improve the situation. Chevrolet have been very fast to overtake Nissan and are now enjoying 3rd spot in car sales behind Toyota and Honda.

2008 will be an important year for Nissan.