All told, 2017 was another very good year for the Nissan brand in Canada with continued growth in all major market sectors, yet Joni Paiva, president of Nissan Canada takes nothing for granted and the Nissan team in Canada, from head office through the valued dealer network, will not be resting on their laurels anytime soon.
Complacency is not part of Mr. Paiva’s—or Nissan Canada’s lexicon.
We caught up with Mr. Paiva during media day at the 2018 Canadian International AutoShow (CIAS) in Toronto this past February and had a candid conversation regarding Nissan going forward.
By way of background and to put 2017 into Nissan-specific context, the Nissan Division set an all-time record with 134,244 total sales, up 10 percent over 2016. Furthermore, Nissan Canada also established calendar-year sales records for six different marques—Rogue, Murano, Armada, Frontier, Titan, and NV200. The top-three selling Nissan models in Canada are: Rogue, Murano, and Sentra with respective sales of 43,418; 15,120; and, 13,883 units. There were also a couple of heartening results for the popular Japanese brand, which bodes well for 2018: sales of the brand new Qashqai sub-compact SUV were strong with 8,970 units sold—and that’s only with almost seven full months of sales; and, the TITAN full-size pickup truck moved 5,692 units—up 109.7 percent over 2016.
According to Mr. Paiva, there are three key elements which drive results like these. “First and foremost, the market in Canada is a strong healthy one with a fairly robust, solid economy.”
“Number two, and this represents the lifeblood of our success, is Nissan’s general product offering.” Mr. Paiva then went on to qualify his statement. When Nissan introduces their new sub-compact crossover, the Kicks later this year, their lineup of SUVs and crossovers will be the largest in Canada—including Qashqai, Rogue, Murano, Pathfinder, and Armada. Furthermore, Mr. Paiva continues, “Overall, the quality of our vehicles improves and gains customer recognition—as does the ongoing development of technology and innovation within every vehicle.”
“And we cannot talk about our lineup with referring to the Leaf, the best-selling BEV in the world. Soon we will have the latest generation available in showrooms across the country. With a new look and an improved range, the popularity for this marque will likely endure.”
The third element Mr. Paiva referenced is the very strong retail network Nissan has developed and nurtured. Nissan dealers across the country solidly support the brand and are engaged in their business. Recently, more than 50 percent of their dealers have, to date, invested in renovations and upgrades to reflect the next phase in the brand’s growth.
In talking generally about the strong Nissan lineup, Mr. Paiva wanted to address the success of the Qashqai, a vehicle he refers to as a compact vehicle. Period. “With almost nine thousand vehicles sold over the course of a few months, these sales we consider incremental.” Smaller than the occasional category-leading Rogue, the Qashqai takes consumers to a different level within the compact segment. Providing greater utility and generally a very capable auto which delivers on so many fronts without compromise compared to a sedan. The Qashqai fulfils so many different roles in this market. Mr. Paiva continues, “Qashqai offers the agility of a car and the utility of a crossover. While we have seen sales to a younger demographic, other families look to this marque as a viable economical and efficient alternative—that also looks good in your driveway!”
With the introduction of the upcoming sub-compact Kicks, Nissan hopes to have all bases covered in the expansive crossover segment. With an appeal to owners looking to “graduate” from a hatchback, for example, the Kicks, for a little more in the monthly budget will provide owners with a well-appointed entry level utility vehicle which may ultimately, for some, serve as the beginning of a long-term relationship with the Nissan range of crossovers.
Today, many mainstream manufacturers see about 70 percent of their sales volume coming from light trucks and utility vehicles and Nissan is no exception. By staying on top of this continuing upward trend, Nissan intends to ride the wave and provide a viable range of alternatives for the discerning buyer in Canada with their “something-for-everyone” approach—much as they have done since coming to Canada.
David Taylor is an independent automotive lifestyle writer, producer, and editor based in Barrie, Ontario who is fascinated by innovation and technology which enhance the overall driving experience. He’s also a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) and is a Director of that organization’s Canadian Car of the Year Award. Follow him on Twitter @Omemeeozzie or on Instagram @hugoscaroftheweek.