Nissan Insider caught up with Francis Bleasdale – Nissan’s LCV sales and marketing director – and had a chat about the new NV400 heavy van and the LCV market.
Is the NV400 just a replacement for the Interstar or is it more than that?
No, the NV400 is much more than that. First of all there are far more versions available, including a rear wheel drive model; that’s something the Interstar never had. It allows us to offer a huge variety of different applications.
So for the customer there’s a choice of short, medium or long wheelbases, front or rear wheel drive, there’s an extended length option, and there’s an opportunity for the van to go up to 4.5 tonnes vehicle gross weight.
The new NV400 gives the dealer and the Nissan Business Centre network the tools to be able to compete head-on with Iveco, Ford’s Transit, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and the Volkswagen Crafter. It really has genuinely filled a space within the range which, even with Interstar, was not fully complete.
Can any dealer sell LCVs?
Yes, any dealer is able to sell LCVs, but there is the Business Centre network which is for dealers who really want to focus on the opportunity. They offer an enhanced range of support for customers and have a dedicated specialist on hand.
Looking ahead, we are aiming to enhance this specialist training and the dealer’s aftersales offering. Aftersales is one of the big opportunities for dealers in terms of profitability – it is not just the selling of the vehicle in the first place that is important, but the care and service of these vehicles can be just as important for profitability. These vans are hard workers and they need to be looked after.
With the NV200 winning awards, do you see it to be the flag-bearer of the range?
It’s a vehicle we are really proud of it especially as it was named 2010 International Van of the Year, What Van? Van of the Year and What Van? Light Van of the Year. But we’re also very proud of our other vehicles. We think Navara is a segment leader, and Cabstar takes 50 per cent of the cab-over-engine market. Each vehicle, in its own right, is contributing to Nissan’s success in the LCV sector.
What are your thoughts on 2012? Will it be tough or will Nissan LCV grow?
We’re planning to grow. We have grown significantly this year – we’re ahead with our year-to-date position compared to 2010, we’ve increased our market share from three per cent to 4.2 per cent, and I believe next year will be no different. We know that the economic climate is challenging, but the way you overcome this is by offering great product, and a compelling proposition. We’re determined to carry on doing this.
What should dealers be doing next year?
Dealers need to be active in their area and looking for the opportunities that are there in their local business market. They need to understand where our products fit into those opportunities, and making sure their databases are of the highest quality and that they are using them in the most effective way possible.
Are you looking at the Taxi of Tomorrow project with a view to bring it to the UK?
Yes we are. The taxi project is just another example of the NV200’s success, and to have it in New York is almost a priceless piece of marketing.
But it goes much further than that, and we are looking at applications for it as a taxi within the UK.
We have a different regulatory framework in this country that poses some questions, such as turning circles, and wheelchair accessibility. But we are looking actively at how we can address those challenges, and how we can have a proposition in the future.