Tag Archives: Nissan

Rise up, rise up

Sales of the Nissan LEAF topped 1,000 units in Canada in 2014, a new high for the all-electric vehicle (Image: Nissan)

Sales of the Nissan LEAF topped 1,000 units in Canada in 2014, a new high for the all-electric vehicle (Image: Nissan)

If you’ve see Nissan Canada swaggering around lately, there’s good reason for it.

The Canadian division of Nissan Group – much like its American brother – boasted killer sales in 2014, vastly growing their customer base and setting company sales records. In an economic climate that had buyers demanding “value!”, Nissan offered it with a lineup of competent, ‘smart buy’ vehicles.

Not bad for an automaker that was getting pretty invisible just a few years ago.

If you think of Nissan as the overlooked high school football player who scores the winning touchdown in the last seconds of the game, I think they can be forgiven for any showboating.

In November of this year, the company’s Nissan and Infiniti brands posted a combined 21.5% year-over-year sales gain compared to Nov., 2013. Year-to date, Nissan Canada sales were up 28.2% in the first 11 months of 2014.

These are serious gains – enough to push Nissan into the Number 6 spot in Canada’s brand ranking and capture 6.3% of the market.

On Nov. 13 of this year, Nissan Canada celebrated another milestone when they passed the 100,000 units mark for the first time since entering the Canadian market in 1966.

Canada's cheapest car proved solid and fun to drive, leading to big sales for the Nissan Micra (Image: Nissan)

Canada’s cheapest car proved solid and fun to drive, leading to big sales for the Nissan Micra (Image: Nissan)

Leading the sales surge was the popular Rogue compact crossover (sales up 77.8% year-to-date), the spacious Sentra sedan, and the surprise success of the Micra subcompact, which was touted as Canada’s cheapest car ($9,998) when it went on sale this past spring. A total of 924 Micras left dealer lots in November, with 6,987 sold between April and November.

Even the all-electric LEAF, which has been on the challenging EV market for several years now, posted a 131% year-to-date sales gain, topping 1,000 units sold in 2014.

The automotive landscape at Nissan looks to remain fairly unchanged for 2015 – after all, why mess with a good thing? – but the company will have to keep on its toes to ensure it doesn’t lose any of the ground it gained this past year. With gas far cheaper than it was a year ago, it seems opportune that Nissan’s newest models – the redesigned Murano and next-generation Titan pickup (to be unveiled in January) – are on the large side of the vehicle spectrum.

Having had such success in the small car market, it would make sense that Nissan would seek to make gains in the large vehicle segment.



Big time

Besides doing big business, the 2014 Nissan Sentra boasts size - both inside and out - at the top of its class.

Besides doing big business, the 2014 Nissan Sentra boasts size – both inside and out – at the top of its class.

If you’ve been seeing a lot more Nissan Sentra’s plying the roads lately, it isn’t your imagination.

Buyers have been snapping up the Sentra like canned goods before a Category 5 hurricane, giving the traditional compact car players a run for their money.

This is a big step back into the spotlight for a venerable model that had become almost invisible in Nissan’s lineup.

October sales in the U.S. show a staggering 56.3% increase over the same month last year, while year-to-date sales are up 44.7% over 2013. In Canada, Nissan moved a total of 1,372 Sentras off dealer lots in October, compared to 1,178 in Oct., 2013.

One thing I can’t help but notice when I see one is its size. You’d swear it was pushing into mid-size territory. If this were the 1990s, you couldn’t tell me the 2014 Sentra is smaller than a Chevy Corsica or Ford Contour.

(Ah, that long lost ‘lower midsize’ category. May it rest in peace.)

After seeing this sizeable compact eleventy billion times, I figured it was time to get down and dirty and compare measurements, just to see if my eyes were deceiving me.

Sentra sales are up 44.7% over last year. (Image: www.newcars.com)

Sentra sales are up 44.7% over last year. (Image: www.newcars.com)

Dimension-wise, I compared the Sentra to other popular vehicles in its class – the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Mazda 3, Ford Focus and Chevy Cruze. Cargo volume was thrown in for good measure, because who doesn’t look a big trunk?

Going by factory spec, it turns out the Sentra is indeed on the large size, coming in at-or-near the top of its class in terms of length and wheelbase.

At 182.1 inches in length, only the Toyota Corolla bests it, and that’s only by five-tenths of an inch. This was somewhat surprising, as the Corolla  in my eyes – appears a little stubby.

The Sentra’s wheelbase, 106.3 inches, was matched by the Corolla and the Mazda 3.

Trunk space, at a generous 15.1 cubic feet, was at the top of the pack. The closest challenger was the Cruze at 15 cubic feet. The other four vehicles ranged from a measly 12.4 cubic feet in the Mazda 3 to 13.2 cubic feet in the Corolla and the Focus.

The Sentra makes no sporting claims in its advertising, preferring to sway car shoppers with value. Offering lots of space for the money is a time-honoured tactic that seems to work well, assuming that the product is at least of fair quality.

With the other brands in a sales tug-of-war fueled by claims of driving excitement (and a healthy dose of name-recognition), it seems the folks at Nissan made a conscious choice to go big, or go home.




Load me up

Now with bacon, cheese, and a slice of tomato!

Now with bacon, cheese, and a slice of tomato!

Earlier today, I found myself driving past a Nissan dealership’s overflow lot and was suddenly seized by a strange compulsion.

Pulling over,  I hopped out to take an impromptu stock of their inventory.

Nissan’s been going great guns lately, aggressively taking to the airwaves in an attempt to boost its sales and market share. The spring introduction of the tiny, bargain-priced Micra into the Canadian car market was a gamble that seems to be paying off, with early sales figures showing much interest from the car-buying public.

I could easily see Canada being a test case for an eventual entry into the lucrative U.S. market, which Nissan seems to be counting on to get that bigger slice of the pie. Nissan’s second-quarter 2014 revenues were up a very substantial 37% from the same period a year before, driven by surging North American sales. Total sales were up 10.4% during the second quarter, despite stagnating demand in Nissan’s home country of Japan.

Nissan brass seem optimistic about the company’s fortunes in the foreseeable future, as well.

(Read more dollars and cents talk here: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d531613e-163f-11e4-93ec-00144feabdc0.html#axzz38osoWV3I)

Now, back to my sleuthing.

Noticing a good number of Micras in the overflow lot, I was curious to record the ratio of trim levels for little hatch, which starts at a tantalizing advertised price of $9,998 for a stripped-down ‘S’ model. Overflow lots are generally filled with dealers’ best guesses as to what will be big sellers, so there is some unscientific value in taking stock of their stock.

Early reviews of the Micra noted that Nissan didn’t expect to sell tons of the base model, given that young people are now used to creature comforts like air conditioning and power windows, but having that four-figure starting price was invaluable as an attention-grabbing marketing tool.

(More on that here: https://driventoattraction.com/?p=287)

The Micras on the lot took that assertion and ran with it – in fact, there wasn’t a single real base model on the lot. Not one Micra, despite many being the ‘S’ model, stickered for less than the neighbourhood of $14,000, with the many ‘SR’ models going in the $16,000 + range.

Room at the top: the mighty Nissan Micra RS.

Room at the top: the mighty Nissan Micra RS.

The reason? All the base models came with a creature comforts package that added automatic transmission, air and power goodies. That optional factory equipment adds $3,435 to the base price, which, when coupled with freight and PDI (and an almost unavoidable extra-cost metallic paint), brought the cost to $14,833.

Not stratospheric by any means, but still a nearly 50% increase over the much-touted entry price. However, if your jar of rainy day pennies doesn’t runneth over, I’m sure a dealer would be happy to order a stripped ‘S’ for your motoring pleasure.

With 109-horsepower on tap for a light, nimble little car, you’d think Nissan would have offered an upgrade package that omitted the automatic transmission, thus allowing drivers to maximize their car’s sportiness while still enjoying comfort and convenience (and saving a possible $1,500 or so).

Now that the car’s success in Canada seems a sure thing, perhaps Nissan will loosen up and increase the range of options and trim packages for the coming model year. I think it would serve to make an already appealing subcompact even more worthy of consideration.