BY THEODORE OPARA
NISSAN Motor Corporation is not hiding its willingness to rule the Nigerian market with its range of vehicles. Jim Dando, Nissan (South Africa) General Manager, who is also in charge of the company’s export market, made this known when they hosted Motoring journalists and customers from Africa in South Africa recently.
The two day event provided Nissan the opportunity to show the journalists their state of the art assembly lines as well as the Nissan full range which was later test driven over many kilometres. The tourists nature of South Africa was not left out as the visitors were hosted to dinner and launch at Maropeng, official visitors centre for the cradle of humankind world heritage site. It is one destination to discover the story of humankind. Dando, who shared some moments with Nigerian journalists, described the Nigerian market as the most important market for Africa.
What’s your target for the Nigerian market?
Nigeria is our biggest and most important market and we are looking forth for great things in the country. We have high expectations and we are expecting the Nissan brand to grow from strength to strength and expect it to become a viable challenger to Toyota in Nigeria.
This is our expectation, but very realistic and we realise this, and we know that we have not been doing well in that all important market in the last few years, but we have seen growth over the last few years, but very slowly, but I think that, the momentum in the Nigerian market for the brand is beginning to gather.
We are looking forward to this year and expect that by next year, we are going to increase our volume substantially and market presence.
How do you see your pricing when compared to other brands?
At the beginning of this fiscal year, the Nissan HardBody was only available through the Japan manufacturers and from the beginning of this fiscal year, we changed source and the product will now be available through our manufacturing plant here South Africa and we are now with the challenges from Alliance Autos Nigeria working on the pricing.
This is in an effort to bring the vehicle to the market at a very competitive pricing. Of course, pricing is a very difficult thing to achieve suddenly, but we have variety of different costing activities to try and reduce the costing of our Pick-Ups in particular, so that we can become really competitive in Nigeria.
In the market, the Pick-Up segment is estimated at 67,000 units and almost completely dominated by Toyota, and we see our product as a viable competitor to Toyota and I see no reason why Nissan cannot take some of Toyota’s volume away.
What are your plans to capture the market?
Our short term goal is to actually get, at least, 30percent market share of Toyota’s volume and this is the challenge I am giving to Alliance Autos Nigeria Limited. But our longer term goal is to really take away significant more than 30 percent off Toyota share.
Do you have the right vehicle range to match Toyota?
Yes we do. When we look at the commercial segment in Nigeria, we see that most products that we saw are in the high class Pick-Ups, made up of 4×4 Double cab, small capacity gasoline engine, but with ABS, airbags, Bluetooth and radio and that kind of luxury which we are also about to make available in Nigeria specially.
We believe that, that is the product that can go after Toyota Hilux and we believe will be offered at the right price and we believe we have the same luxury level that Toyota has and thereby making us rival competitors. It will be interesting to note that we have received the first pre-shipment order, the manufacture of which started off in May and the first order shipment will be arriving Nigeria sometime soon.
Can you tell us specifically the pickup within your range that can upstage the Hilux
Specially, for Nigeria, previously it was not available. This is the 4×4 Double cabins with 2.4 liter petrol engine capacity which was a challenge for us because previously we don’t have the petrol version. It is our AX model that has all the luxuries that every buyer should expect from an SUV, electric windows, climate control air-conditioning, quality radio, Bluetooth.
When was the first version of this new NP300 product launched?
The current product called D22 HardBody, and this is the model designation that we gave it inside the assembly plant. This model has been around in its current shape from 2002 in its basic shape and since then, there have been series of changes to the vehicle and mainly around the design in the front end while the main body as such has not changed at all. We have our most recent facelift with the introduction of NP300.
What will happen in the lifetime of this vehicle is that we expect to have changes between now and 2015, but there will not be any fundamental changes. Most of the changes in the engines have only been in the diesel models.
What is Nissan 2016 global target and implication for Nigerian market
It is another pain, but we have been able to recover momentum in a country like Nigeria. We need to be more present inside the market and what we would like to see in Nigeria is more dealers that are owned by the nationals. We are discussing strongly at the moment with Alliance Autos our representative in Nigeria on the extension of dealer network in Nigeria.
How are you tackling the problem of parts availability, and genuinty
We conduct an annual IPPS Survey. Basically, what we do is to take some of our spare that are similar to other brands and compare against our competitors and in Nigeria’s case, Toyota. We have now concluded through this survey that there could be need to effect some adjustment in some maintenance car parts. For some time now, we have been making adjustments and will continue to do that in order for it to be at par with our competitors. We will continue to do that because; it is not going to be a one-off exercise.
The challenge that we also face is that, there are lots of parallel import parts and this causes major concern. What happens is that, some of these parts are of counterfeit origins that are not actually Nissan part. However, what happens is that manufacturers of these parts brought them into the market under Nissan brand name.
What this translates to be is that, these manufacturers of these faked parts greatly reduce the prices of these parts, which in effect creates a false impression of Nissan parts. Because these parts are not of the same quality, sometimes you see failure of these parts to deliver the same value as the original one from our company, and because it comes in a Nissan box, people think it is ours.
So,to be able to control this, we have started to negotiate with companies to enforce compliance controls. Some countries have got compliance control to control the influx of such substandard parts. For instance, Algeria has got a record of compliance control and what we wish to do is to enter into contract with companies that manage the compliance control for us.