Nis­san eyes pole po­si­tion

Aus­tralian favourite by 2012 is the goal, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

BY 2012 Nis­san plans to be No.1 in Aus­tralia. It is not aim­ing for first over­all, but be­lieves it can over­take Mazda, Hyundai and Mit­subishi to be­come the coun­try’s favourite all-im­port brand.

Nis­san is al­ready do­ing bet­ter with ev­ery­thing from the su­per­car GT-R to the Max­ima, 370Z and Mu­rano, and be­lieves the nextgen­er­a­tion Ti­ida — which could re­vert to the Pul­sar name when it lands in 2011— will push it to the top.

‘‘Our mar­ket as­pi­ra­tion is to be the No.1 full im­porter in this com­pany. That’s the ob­jec­tive for 2012,’’ Nis­san Aus­tralia manag­ing di­rec­tor Dan Thomp­son says.

‘‘Where we sit now is No.2 or 3. Mazda is now clearly No.1 . . . in re­cent times Hyundai has joined the party, so we have three play­ers vy­ing for that spot.

‘‘We want to leapfrog Mazda by 2012, with two years of brand build­ing and the next gen­er­a­tion of cars.’’

It seems a big call and it will not be easy, but Thomp­son be­lieves Nis­san will have the ve­hi­cles to get the num­bers for top spot.

‘‘This busi­ness isn’t rocket sci­ence. You have the right prod­ucts, . . . and the rest . . . and you have mar­ket suc­cess,’’ he says.

The next piece of the prod­uct puz­zle, af­ter the front-wheel drive Dualis price-fighter re­vealed last week, is the Z Road­ster.

‘‘It’s all fall­ing into place. The re­sults are be­ing de­liv­ered just as we’d planned,’’ Thomp­son says. ‘‘The goal is to be sit­ting at 6 per cent. We were at 5.9 last year.

‘‘It won’t dra­mat­i­cally change in fis­cal 2010 un­til the core-vol­ume mod­els — the new Mi­cra and Ti­ida — ar­rive.’’

Nis­san has tagged its plan as GT2012, but it’s not just about num­bers.

‘‘G is for growth and T is for trust,’’ Thomp­son says. ‘‘The GT-R is a fan­tas­tic story. It’s not about vol­ume, it’s about brand­ing. We sold 300 cars but we had 20,000 vis­i­tors to our site each week to see the car.

‘‘Mu­rano, Max­ima, Z and GT-R have far ex­ceeded our plan­ning. The Dualis is the fifth piece.’’

Thomp­son says the big­gest prob­lem for Nis­san this year is get­ting suf­fi­cient stock of its big­gest sell­ers, in­clud­ing the Navara.

Do­ing bet­ter: the Max­ima is al­ready help­ing to push Nis­san along.

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