08 March 2011
Ambitious Nissan Europe
Around the world, Nissan plays second fiddle to Toyota. In 2009 Toyota made 7,250,000 vehicles, while Nissan 2,750,000. Quite some difference. However, one thing Nissan is improving on is making more interesting cars. Look at the Qashqai (Dualis) - Juke and compare those with Auris/Corolla - Avensis. The Nissans are pushing boundaries, while Toyota models are solid but boring. So if there is one region where boring is eschewed, it is Europe. This is where Nissan has set it sights on in beating Toyota, because the exciting models it has will be appreciated more than dull Toyota models.
To do this, Nissan has been steadily increasing dealerships within Europe, chipping away at the lead Toyota has with its newer, more exciting cars. By looking at sales in Europe (the ones I have are without countries from the former Soviet Bloc), we see the gap is closing.
In 2007, Toyota sold 890,000 cars (5.6% share) and Nissan 310,000 (1.9%). In 2010, dreary Toyota sold only 580,000 (4.2%) and Nissan 400,000 (2.9). The gap has narrowed from 580k to 180k in three years!
What will count against Nissan is that Toyota surely cannot keep falling like it has. One would expect Toyota will now halt its European sales slide and may even claw some market share back. For Nissan to continue its upward march will get ever more challenging, with stiff competition from Korean and local brands.
Summary: Nissan's desire to surpass Toyota in Europe is ambitious and worthy. It may take some years yet, if ever, to pull this overtaking manoeuvre off. Nissan still has to be profitable, and that is more important than sales volume anyway.