Nissan GB’s boss talks exclusively to Car Dealer about why the Micra will remain a bread and butter seller for his dealers
How important is Micra to dealers?
We’ve just launched Juke and now Micra and it’s important to understand the role of both these cars, as they compliment each other. Juke will be predominantly conquest based on the experience of Qashqai – where we had up to 80 per cent levels of conquest, which was incredible – we expect 70 per cent conquest on Juke. But it’s the exact opposite on Micra. It is a great product for our loyal customers.
The target buyer is a 55-year-old woman. Do dealers need to think about how they sell to that person?
Diversity is a good thing in terms of any organisation. Nissan and its dealers are used to selling Micra. At the model’s peak we were selling 40-50,000 models a year, to the same target market as this car, so our network is used to selling to these buyers. The challenge comes when new people come to brand who are more youthful – the challenge is probably the other way around.
Are the sales volumes planned for the Micra easily achievable?
We have grown. We’ve gone from a three per cent brand three years ago to a four per cent brand. We’ve just finished on 4.5 per cent share in 2010 – and we anticipate more growth this year around the five per cent mark. Within that we have a very realistic expectation of Micra. The bigger volume will come from Juke – anywhere between 20-25,000 in the year, which will compliment Qashqai, which will sell around 35,000. Then Micra will come under that with between 15-17,000, which we feel is wholly realistic. Manufacturers think that adding up more and more products will lead to more sales, but what we need to understand is where we expect our customer base to come from.
How should dealers market the Micra?
We had a very successful pre-launch and went to a number of garden centres where target buyers were. We think our dealers need to be more proactive at getting cars to where customers are – garden centres are one idea. This year we’ll be running a cooperative programme with
the network so dealers can use an events tool kit from us to go out and promote the car. We’ve also dipped our hand in our pocket and given the network a support fund to enable them to promote this car. The cash
is available on a one-for-one basis –
so if they invest, we invest. This will sustain the launch of Micra as Juke is getting the lion’s share of the budget.
What’s the order book looking like?
It’s just arriving in dealers now and on the first weekend we took 700 orders which was ahead of our expectations. The issue we have as a brand, which is a bit of a luxury, but a double-edged sword too, is that we have a big order bank. We’ve currently got around 20,000 unfulfilled orders. That’s mostly for Juke and Qashqai and means the network is now having to get used to managing that pipeline. On some derivatives it’s going up to five or six months. If dealers manage it properly and are able to communicate why it is happening and not over promise then we’ve found customers don’t cancel. We think customers will wait for cars. We haven’t seen orders fall away as our network is very good at explaining the waiting time as a positive – the cars are in demand and that keeps residual values strong. It hasn’t been done on purpose, we’ve just under-called the demand.
Will you be able to cope with demand for the Micra?
Well, the issue with Micra is it’s not built in the UK. Last year 80 per cent of our volume was built in Sunderland. Micra has longer lead times because of where it is built, but we will have enough Micras to satisfy demand, we’re confident of that.
Will there be any more variants of Micra, like a C+C version?
Not in the current plan. At the moment we’re not announcing any further variants of Micra. That’s not to say there won’t be… I’d be surprised if there were other variants. We have a comprehensive range of cars in different roles. Adding complexity to the network, unless it’s controlled, can just add costs and breeds confusion.