Nissan is planning a growth offensive across Europe to establish itself as the number one Japanese car manufacturer for sales.
Speaking at the fleet unveiling of the new Qashqai in London in November, Guillaume Cartier, Nissan senior vice-president for sales and marketing, told an international audience of several hundred fleet decision-makers that Nissan aimed to become the top Asian brand in Europe, intent on seeing off competition from Kia and Hyundai, as well as established Japanese rivals Toyota, Honda and Mazda.
He said to achieve Nissan’s ambition it needed to grow in the fleet market in Europe by 50% to achieve a 5.3% share.
However, Nissan in the UK already has a higher share of the fleet sector, although its head of fleet, Barry Beeston, told Fleet News there was still room to increase fleet sales on the back of models such as the new Qashqai.
He said: “We already have a 7.1% share of the fleet market, but it’s even higher when we apply the same factors as they do for the rest of Europe. We will see a small level of growth in our fleet share in the UK in line with market demand.”
He said class-leading low CO2 emissions from 99g/km, improved fuel economy, higher residual values and reduced labour time of up to 8% will all help make the new model a more compelling package for fleet operators than the outgoing Qashqai.
As well as being popular with company car drivers, the Qashqai has also been in demand as a Motability car. Although Nissan will continue to support the car in Motability, Beeston is seeking to rebalance the sales mix with a greater share of true fleet sales.
So far in 2013, around a quarter of Nissan’s sales have been into Motability. The proportion should reduce following the launch of the new Qashqai.
Beeston said: ”The current vehicle has performed extremely well in the fleet market as well as with SMEs and in the public sector.
“The new model is a great evolution of the current product with significantly improved credentials, including lower servicing costs and better fuel economy. This will help contribute to a lower running costs package, and will have greater appeal to user-choosers.
“We will see a balanced mix of this vehicle. We will continue to serve the Motability sector, as our dealers buy the majority of those cars at the end of their term and it provides them with a profit opportunity on the used vehicles.
“While we will support the vehicle in that channel there will be a balance. We’ll keep short cycle to a minimum with a mix below 5% of our volume, but we see an opportunity to increase our share with user-choosers and corporates.”
The new Qashqai is available to order with deliveries to customers beginning in February 2014. The car is lighter than the original Qashqai, and combined with a revised engine line-up including new petrol engines as well as a more efficient 1.5-litre diesel, CO2 emissions are reduced across the range.
The car is also offered with a suite of new safety technology, an automatic gearbox option for the 1.6-litre diesel, while the 1.6-litre petrol and 1.6-litre diesel also have the option of all-wheel drive variants.
Beeston added: “The way the car drives, its performance, its low-CO2 credentials, the quality of the interior will give it broader appeal that the current model.”
Click here for an interactive guide to the new Nissan Qashqai.