Interview: Jim Wright, MD, Nissan Motor GB
How has 2015 been for Nissan, so far?
In terms of car share, we’re about 5.8% which is about 0.6% up year-on-year, and in fleet it’s the same kind of order, it equates to about 10,000 cars. On year-on-year comparisons we’re one of the best performing brands in the marketplace. Why? With Navara we’re coming to the bookend of a lot of product introductions, so we’ve got a really young line up. It doesn’t mean to say we can’t be better, of course.
What are you doing to expand your fleet presence?
If you’re looking at Nissan’s penetration, then in the leasing companies – so the biggest customers – and SMEs, we punch above our market share in those segments. But, in the middle, fleet sizes between 50 and 200 vehicles, we’re a little bit weaker. So that’s where our opportunity lies.
We’ve refreshed our dealer Business Centre programme, we’ve put more boots on the ground, given dealers more resource. But in terms of our opportunity it’s large corporates. We’re investing in a field team to basically prosecute a part of the market that, if I’m honest, we haven’t been in. So with a combination of all those things, plus the product offering, we have an expectation that we can do more.
Are fleets changing the way they use the LEAF?
Up until probably a year ago we were selling ones and twos, occasionally we were selling ten. Uptake in fleet is less than retail, but we’re getting deals of 20s and 30s. Businesses that have taken ones and twos then coming back for more, businesses that have bought LEAFs coming back for e-NV200, businesses who have bought e-NV200 buying LEAFs. So slowly you can see the ripple effect starting to wash out.
We’re also getting [fleet and retail] customers to share their experiences through video. If you can demonstrate to one business type that another business type has made a success of this then it becomes an easier sell.
How could the UK Government better support the EV market?
Support for infrastructure; we’ve said you need to give this to companies as well, so they can put charging infrastructure on their own premises and people can charge when they get to work. It’s not just about domestic charging.
There are many other things which are not financial that they can do. If you look at Norway, in Oslo you can drive in bus lanes if you have an EV. EV penetration in London would go through the roof if EVs could drive in bus lanes. It’s getting there, but it’s taking an incredible amount of time.
What are your aspirations for the new Navara?
The current vehicle is eight or nine years old, it’s had a long life and we’ve been selling in the UK 10-12,000 vehicles year in year out. At one point we were taking 25% of this market. There are far more competitors, so I don’t think we’ll take that share again but in terms of volume opportunity it’s a big one.