April 10, 2012
EVP Andy Palmer on Nissan’s New Hatchback
Following UK Prime Minister Cameron’s visit to Nissan’s Yokohama headquarters, Nissan EVP Andy Palmer gave the Media Center an update on Nissan’s investments in Sunderland – including an as yet-unnamed new hatchback – and Europe.
Q1. Tell us about the hatchback you’ve announced today.
The car is a C-segment hatchback that is going to be built in the UK in 2014. Clearly, this marks Nissan’s return to the main part of the C-segment.
Today we have the Qashqai, which is phenomenally successful. Obviously, we built a whole sub-segment there, but we’ve been absent from the true C-segment – say, the Golf competitor – for an awfully long time. And we lose some customers as a result of not having a car to offer them either “from” or “to”.
The intention from a product planning perspective is to put a car back into the mainstream complementary to the Qashqai and, of course, key to making sure that we’re the biggest Asian maker in Europe – and ensuring we reach 5% market share.
Q2. Would you please give us an update on Nissan LEAF sales in Europe?
We’ve started selling LEAF globally. We’ve sold 27,000 units to date, so It’s already the biggest electric car in history. It’s already outsold the accumulation of what everybody else has sold. It’s a phenomenal success. If you just look at the LEAF nameplate, it’s already in the top 25% [in terms of recognition among] cars that are sold.
Now, as we localize, as we go the US, the UK, then the expectation is that we really start mass-marketing the electric car. That means that later this year, and early next year, Sunderland and Smyrna (in the U.S.) will start really pushing the car and really making people aware of the merit of the car.
Obviously, today, the Prime Minister spoke to some of the guys in Sunderland who are actually responsible [for the LEAF] and who are over here learning how to make the LEAF, and learning how to integrate the battery into the LEAF product.
Deputy Editor, Global Media Center