Nissan sales are booming in western Europe, but the brand won’t “force the market” in pursuit of pure market share, according to the company’s European boss.
Paul Willcox, chairman of Nissan’s European region, said sales were up by 14% last year, giving the brand a 4% market share, and growth was running at around 9% for the first nine months of this year.
Achieving a European market share of 4-5% will be a “comfortable” position for the company, he said. “We want to stay in profit in western Europe, so trying to get to a 6-7% share would just be forcing the market,” he said, citing the risk of having to offer discounts and cheap PCP deals in order to hit increased sales targets.
Willcox also revealed that the next Micra, previewed by the Sway concept at the Geneva motor show in March, would be heading upmarket, with the new-generation model becoming a sister car to the current Renault Clio.
Willcox pointed out that Nissan has had the Micra brand in Europe “for 33 years” and acknowledged that this new model will move it markedly away from its city car roots. The current Micra - primarily engineered to be affordable in developing markets - has not been a sales hit in Europe.
Willcox said Nissan has “leadership in the crossover market” and expects the brand to continue to benefit from the soaring demand for this type of vehicle.
“Sales in the D-segment [Mondeo class] have collapsed and the cost of owning a premium car has been falling,” he added. “The versatility of the crossover format is what is driving sales.”