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For the love of Navara: Small is big for Nissan’s bakkie sales

2017-11-21 11:36

Image: Lance Branquinho

Lance Branquinho

Cape Town - Nissan has the widest selection of bakkies: from small to rather large. What do their sales tell us about the local bakkie market?

The Nissan bakkie heritage. It’s indisputable. No other automotive brand in South Africa has such a broad portfolio of bakkies: NP200, NP300, Navara and Patrol.

From the compact bakkie segment, which Nissan effectively established and owned for decades with the 1400, to heavy-duty single-cab off-road bakkies such as Patrol, no rival offers nearly as extensive a range.

NP200, Navara and Patrol

Considering South African is a bakkie market, you’d expect Nissan to do rather well here. It does, although the late arrival of Navara, and single digit sales of Patrol, has hampered overall sales momentum. Year to date Nissan’s total local sales of all its bakkie products have been 25 618, which is a fair bit behind Toyota and Ford.

Despite not being the biggest bakkie brand in absolute sales, Nissan’s diversity of product makes it the best analysis tool for what consumers want. The best-selling Nissan bakkie is NP200, successor to the legendary 1400 and at 13096 units, NP200 is clear evidence that the compact bakkie market is alive and well. Once contested by Ford, Opel and Fiat – Nissan is now a monopoly player with its NP200. Amazingly, that most astute and successful of Japanese automotive brands, Toyota, does not have a compact bakkie product to counter NP200 with.

Nissan’s second best-selling bakkie is NP300. Despite being a generation old, keen pricing and customers who prefer robust mechanicals to comfort specification have purchased 11059 NP300s thus far in 2017. If you need something which can run on all grades of diesel, with ‘normal’ wheel sizes and a heavy-duty steel loadbin, the NP300 is an appropriate approach to revived early 2000s bakkie specification.

Third-place in the Nissan sales organogram goes to Navara, Nissan’s glamour bakkie squaring off directly against Hilux and Ranger. Differentiated by its multi-link rear suspension, the market has been slow to reward Nissan for this ride-comfort innovation. Total sales have only been 1454, averaging a mere 160 units per month.

                                                                           Image: Charlen Raymond

Nissan’s best-kept secret is in fourth place: the Patrol single-cab. Revered in Australia as a purist off-roader’s choice bakkie, in South Africa Patrol, due to specification choice, has struggled. Badly. How badly? Well, they’ve only sold nine of these bakkies this year. The issue is that Toyota’s Land Cruiser 70-Series single-cab is still regarded as the default choice, and gold standard, for true wilderness road and mine construction crews.

What does the data tell us?

In essence, that Nissan’s fortunes have not altered much with its bakkie business. The segment which popularised Nissan as a bakkie brand is still is most successful, NP200 having valiantly deputised from the retired 1400 as a dominant compact bakkie, whilst Hardbody, profits from its workhorse credentials and lack of on-board electronics – to find favour with buyers who seek a rugged bakkie with relatively modern powertrains.

If Nissan’s sales are taken as a trend indicator, its rivals must be taking note of those 1300 NP200 being sold each month, without any competition. Imagine a revived Bantam from Ford, and new Stallion from Toyota, entering the compact bakkie market to duel with Nissan. Unlikely to happen, but the business case is most certainly there to be exploited. 

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Read more on:    nissan  |  lance branquinho  |  south africa  |  bakkie

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