The managing director spoke to Car Dealer at the launch of the new Qashqai and was one of the most upbeat chiefs we’ve spoken to so far this year.
He predicts total registrations will be around 1.8m, down on last year but that’s still higher than many of his contemporaries are predicting. And he has high hopes for Nissan on the back of this too.
Needless to say this optimism is driven by the brand’s new product push with an all-new Micra due in October and the dramatic Juke crossover around the same time.
‘Nissan has enjoyed its biggest market share for five years in the last 12 months,’ he said. ‘We increased by one per cent from a three per cent brand to a four per cent brand.
‘Retail was the key driver of that growth. Fleet is still important but our retail share really grew.
‘Scrappage has been a windfall opportunity, but it wasn’t just scrap for us – we were not overly dependent on it like other manufacturers. Hyundai sold 80 per cent of their cars last year under scrappage – by comparison we sold 30 per cent.
‘We grew non-scrap too and broke into the top 10 manufacturers in the UK – we’re now at number eight ahead of Honda, Citroen and Mercedes.’
Willcox added that Nissan was the number one growth brand in the UK when you strip out scrappage and said new product launches had worked wonders for the manufacturer. With more in the pipeline this year, he was ‘very confident’ about the coming 12 months.
By JAMES BAGGOTT