Nissan Kicks Up a Gear

Despite tough operating conditions, Nissan Middle East has been notching up record sales.

By Ghaith Madadha

Nissan Middle East sold a record-breaking 219,129 units in the 2014 financial year, up 3.3 percent on 2013. In Jordan, it managed to shift just over 2,200 units, an impressive 33 percent leap which now makes Nissan the Kingdom’s fifth biggest selling automaker.

Nissan Middle East Managing Director Samir Cherfan put his company’s strong performance down to offering consumers an attractive lineup of vehicles, combined with good customer service and branding.

Given the regional instabilities, not to mention a significant and persistent drop in oil prices, to what do you attribute Nissan’s strong performance and growth in the Middle East in 2014?

Our strategy for success and growth is still based on the global ‘Power 88’ approach. The strategy pillars for growth are to leverage on our extensive lineup renewal, continuously strengthen our brand power, and a strong and professional dealer network, on which we are focusing on dealership coverage (quantity) and customer service.

You are now the fifth biggest carmaker in Jordan. What do you put this down to?

In Jordan, there is big support from the government for sustainable transportation so the hybrid vehicles segment receives great interest and holds 19 percent of the total industry volume (TIV). We are big believers in supporting sustainable driving technology and offering greater fuel efficiency across all our models. With this in mind, we recently launched a Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid, providing Middle East customers with an eco-friendly SUV that does not compromise the drive experience.

The Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid has been doing very well in Jordan recently. Do you see scope for expanding on this with other hybrid models?

At the moment, we don’t have any plans to introduce other Nissan hybrid models to the region. We see a lot of opportunity for the Pathfinder Hybrid in the Middle East market, especially as countries start to make more of an effort to drive sustainability initiatives. Moreover, as Middle East consumers become more eco-aware and environmentally conscious, we foresee that hybrids will start to increase in popularity the same way they have in Western markets.

The old Nissan Sunny was Jordan’s most popular taxi. How important is this segment, and what are Nissan’s plans for a replacement?

In Jordan, the Nissan Sunny is still one of our best-selling models. In fact, in 2014 we launched a new version to satisfy our consumers’ demands. However, the Jordanian taxi segment has been notably declining the past two years, now occupying only 7 percent of the total industry volume with many new entrants making the segment ultra-competitive. We are currently focusing on offering the Nissan Sentra for taxi use in Jordan.

What are Nissan’s sales projections for next year for the Middle East?

Under our Power 88 Mid Term strategic plan, Nissan Middle East is targeting to sell over 300,000 units by full year 2016 and reach 10 percent market share in the whole region, which of course cannot be done without the high contribution that we get from Jordan as a key market for us.