What’s new for 2016?
Darren Payne, UK sales director at Nissan, said: “The year got off to a great start for with the launch of the much-acclaimed NP300 Navara in January – a model that’s been awarded as the International Pick-Up of the Year for2016, and which put Nissan back at the top of the pick-up sector. Along with all other Nissan LCVs, the Navara comes with Nissan’s class-leading five-year, or 100,000 mile warranty.
“Later this year, we will launch the newest member of our growing LCV range – the NV300, which give Nissan a strong presence at the heart of the UK van market.
“All of this will be further supported by the introduction of a dedicated LCV support team headed up by Mark Wheeler, director of LCV and customer relationships. This team consists of LCV sales managers, a conversions manager and aftersales support managers.
“In addition, Robert Tweedie has joined the department as the new fleet sales director, heading up the expanding fleet sales teams.”
What are your hopes for 2016?
Payne said: “I’m new to Nissan, having joined the company just a month or so ago, so I have to say my plans for 2016 revolve largely around continuing the excellent work that’s already been done by my team.
“As a brand we’ve enjoyed back-to-back record breaking years for corporate sales and I want to see us continue that trend.
“Last year, we achieved a record 5.68% share of the UK fleet market and consolidated our position as the UK’s seventh largest fleet manufacturer by volume.
“Moving forward I intend for us to build on this and we can do so by ensuring our processes, systems, customer support and SMR offerings are every bit as strong as our product line-up.
“In my new role I’ll bring closer working relationships between the network and corporate sales, and I’d like to see our customers experiencing the benefits of this during the year.
“We’ve also significantly expanded our corporate sales team, not least with the addition of a new mid-sized fleet team, and again I expect us to begin to see the benefits of this during 2016.
What new initiatives are you introducing for fleets?
Payne said: “I’ve been very impressed since joining the brand with the amount of work taking place on initiatives to strengthen Nissan’s corporate sales presence and reputation.
“The whole team is pulling in the same direction to ensure we have everything in place to build a compelling case for fleet operators and company car drivers to choose us over our rivals.
“For a start, we’ll be expanding our nationwide network of specialist business centres - currently 56 - to ensure we are better able to support our customers in their own locality.
“We’re also putting new systems, software and training into those centres to ensure they are able to exceed both the expectations of our customers and offerings of our competitors.
“In addition, we’ve introduced new monitoring tools and a specialist field team to ensure standards across the network remain consistently high.
“This year, Nissan Corporate Sales are trialing a telematics system with some of the UK’s leading companies. This will create great opportunities for fleet managers in making their fleets more efficient and keeping their drivers safe.
“Our corporate and retail sales teams will also be working much more closely over the coming months – a move which will ensure we are better able to react quickly to demand from fleet customers.
“We’ve also recently introduced a new eight-strong team of experience fleet professionals to look after the needs of mid-sized fleets (50-200 vehicles) – an area we’ve identified the potential for future growth.
What’s the biggest automotive issue facing fleets this year?
Payne said: “I don’t think there’s one overriding issue dominating the minds of fleet operators this year. Rather, there are many issues fleets must grapple with in the months ahead.
“The Renault-Nissan Alliance is at the very forefront of the industry in two of these areas – the accelerating move towards electric vehicles and the introduction of autonomous drive technology.
“As a brand we pioneered the EV sector and we are now seeing more and more businesses, across a broader spectrum, either taking their first steps into EV or electrifying more and more of their fleets. This is only going to increase as the year progresses with more fleet managers required to build some level of EV and future-proofing into their change cycle planning. That, of course, is very good news for Nissan.
“In addition, I expect there to be more and more talk as the year progresses on autonomous drive technologies and fleet operators will be trying to figure out how this impacts them.
“Here again, Nissan will be leading the way. Earlier this year we announced that the refreshed Qashqai due next year will feature autonomous ‘Piloted Drive’ technology.
“A first step towards greater Autonomous Drive, this market-leading technology will allow cars to drive autonomously and safely in a single lane.
“Looking further ahead, Nissan has already set out its commitment to launch a range of vehicles with autonomous drive capabilities by 2020, including vehicles that will be able to safely navigate city intersections.
“All of this will leave us in pole position as fleet operators look to capitalise on the advantages of this exciting new generation of technology.”