Newsflash: elektrische SUV van Nissan gaat minimaal 50.000 euro kosten

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+++ Despite reports about its death, BMW hasn’t given up on the 2-Series Active Tourer. The second-generation MPV has an evolutionary design that is sportier than before. One of the biggest changes occurs up front as the model adopts a significantly larger grille. The front end also appears taller than before and this helps to give the model a more crossover-like appearance. Further back, it will get an angular shoulder line and a revised greenhouse. The model also adopts door-mounted mirrors, a sloping roof and new door handles. The rear end doesn’t appear to change much as it retains a rakish window, a tailgate-mounted spoiler and a curvaceous bumper. However, it will get slimmer taillights. Inside the cabin, drivers will be treated to a dual display setup that was teased on the iNext concept. It features a digital instrument cluster which is positioned next to a widescreen infotainment system. Elsewhere, there will be an evolutionary center stack and a makeshift center console. The latter features a compact gear selector which helps to free up interior space. Last but not least, it will get new door panels with angular arm rests and metallic accents. BMW has been tight-lipped about the 2-Series Active Tourer, but it is expected to ride on an updated version of the UKL platform. The model is also expected to grow in size as the larger Gran Tourer variant will reportedly be dropped. Engine options remain unconfirmed, but we can expect petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid options. There’s no word on specifics, but choices should echo those available on the 1-Series. As a result, there could be a turbocharged 1.5-liter 3-cylinder petrol with 140 hp. There could also be a 2.0-liter diesel with outputs of 150 hp and 190 hp. +++ 

+++ CHINA hopes new energy vehicle (NEV) sales can reach around a quarter of all car sales in 2025, up from a target of “over 20 %” laid out in a 2017 planning document, the industry ministry said in a draft plan for development of the NEV sector. China’s market for NEVs (which include plug-in hybrids, battery-only electric vehicles and those powered by hydrogen fuel cells) has been a bright spot in an otherwise lackluster car market, with sales jumping 62 % last year, versus a 2.8 % drop in all car sales. But a steep cut in subsidies this year has dented NEV sales in recent months. In October, NEV sales fell 45.6 % from a year earlier. China sold a total of 28.1 million cars in 2018, including 1.3 million NEVs, so NEV sales were 4.6 % of the overall market. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology’s draft proposal on NEVs noted that China would keep developing electric vehicle battery technologies, and improve infrastructure for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and connected vehicles. The proposal, covering NEV development from 2021 to 2035, did not include sales forecasts or targets for 2030 or 2035. China is also discussing introducing stricter green car quotas in coming years that would require carmakers to produce a certain amount of NEVs. +++ 

+++ Seat’s performance brand CUPRA has made its debut in Mexico with the opening of its first global flagship store and the market launch of the Ateca. The Cupra Garage store, located in an exclusive part of Mexico City, is joined by 6 Cupra Corners throughout the Seat dealership network in Mexico. The Cupra Garage is a 300 square meter street-level venue with enough room to display up to 6 vehicles. The store is staffed by a team of 4 Cupra Masters and a sales manager. The brand has chosen Mexico’s capital city as the location of the world’s first Cupra Garage because the local market has a big appetite for Seat’s performance models. “Mexico is a key market for Cupra, and the inauguration of the Cupra Garage is an important step for the brand’s expansion”, said Cupra CEO Wayne Griffiths. “Our models have always had a great acceptance in this market. In 2018, one of every three units sold of the Seat Leon was a Cupra, the highest mix worldwide”, Griffiths pointed out. Also marking the brand’s local debut were the Mexican premieres of the Cupra Formentor plug-in hybrid crossover concept and Cupra Ateca Limited Edition. 51 of the planned 1.999 units of the limited-run Cupra Ateca have been allocated to Mexico and will arrive early next year. The Cupra brand sold 20.600 units in the first 9 months of this year; up 78.9 % than in the same period last year. Germany is the leading market, with more than 8.700 deliveries, followed by the UK, Spain and France. The expansion to Mexico, Cupra’s first market outside Europe, should help increase sales further. The first signs are promising, as the pre-order campaign for the Ateca, which kicked off in October, enjoyed a “huge response”, according to the company. Besides the 300 hp SUV, the brand will also handle sales of the Leon Cupra hot hatch. +++ 

+++ DAIMLER ’s workforce in Germany will bear the brunt of the €1.4 billion in cost cuts planned by the end of 2022, the head of the carmaker’s works council told. “Two thirds of the sum are to be saved in Germany”, Michael Brecht said. Daimler told last week it would cut at least 10,000 jobs worldwide over the next 3 years, following others in the industry seeking savings to invest in electric vehicles and to cope with weakening sales. “Neither savings potential of €1.4 billion nor job cuts of at least 10.000 people has been okayed by the works council”, Brecht said, adding management and labor representatives had agreed not to give a number for job reductions. Daimler has repeatedly cut its profit outlook over recent months, partly to cover a regulatory crackdown on diesel emissions but also because of a slowing auto market. +++ 

+++ While the Chinese and North American markets are experiencing (kind of temporary) a decrease of plug-in electric car sales, EUROPE moves forward with healthy growth rate. In October, some 48.219 plug-ins were sold (up 46 % year-over-year). PHEV sales increased 75 %, almost matching BEVs (Battery Electric Vehicles), which increased 26 %. Together, all plug-ins hold roughly 4 % of sales for the month, which is quite an achievement. After 10 months of 2019, sales amounted to over 429.250 at an average of 3.2 % market share (2.0 % for BEVs). As Tesla had a slower month of deliveries, and Renault Zoé is in the transition to a new generation, the month didn’t bring any spectacular results, aside from high results of PHEVs, especially in Germany. The Renault Zoé sold 3.440 units (down 15 %) and 38.142 during the year. Next came the Nissan Leaf with 3.028 sales (down 37 %) and 27.573 units during the year, the Volkswagen e-Golf (2.908 (up 18 %) and 22.612), the BMW i3 (3.679 (up 17 %) and 27.284) and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (2.574 (down 7%) and 29.283). +++ 

+++ The Italian metalworker union called on FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES (FCA) to come up with new car models to be produced in its home town of Turin to ensure the Mirafiori plant there reaches full employment. In October, FCA and PSA unveiled plans to create a $50 billion group, set to become the he world’s No.4 automaker. But analysts fear the merger could create a group with spare production capacity of almost 6 million vehicles in a slowing autos market. FCA has pledged to invest €750 million in its Mirafiori plant in Turin, as part of a €5 billion plan to 2021 for Italy, but the union said in a statement that a new business plan was necessary to increase production and boost jobs. +++ 

+++ In FORD ’s back yard, Vignale is synonymous to premium. Plenty of models have already welcomed the more upmarket spec, including the Fiesta, Galaxy, S-Max and Mondeo, and now it’s time for the Focus Active to get all dressed up. Expanding the company’s compact car lineup, the new Focus Active X Vignale combines the specific rugged exterior styling (plastic body cladding and jacked-up stance) with exclusive 17-inch alloy wheels, contrasting black roof and side mirror caps and LED headlights. On the inside, it boasts leather seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, in addition to a segment-first, the head-up display, plus Active Park Assist. Further details on the Focus Active X Vignale, including its engine lineup and pricing for the European markets, will be announced in due course. In the meantime, Ford has reconfirmed the launch of the Focus EcoBoost Hybrid. The model is coming next year with 48-volt mild-hybrid technology and will be joined by an eco-friendly Fiesta, which will get a similar powertrain. The 2 of them will combine a 1.0-liter 3-cylinder petrol engine with a belt-driven integrated starter/generator, a setup that helps boost performance and efficiency. Ford didn’t go into specifics, but the Fiesta should return 4.9 l/100 km and have carbon dioxide emissions of 112 g/km, whereas the Focus will burn 4.7 l/100 km and emit 106 g/km of CO2. +++ 

+++ After a week in which Daimler and Audi announced thousands of job cuts, it’s easy to forget that the car industry in GERMANY once seemed unassailable. The 2009 recession forced a massive downsizing of America’s auto giants. General Motors and Chrysler filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection; Ford escaped a similar fate only by cutting its workforce to the bone. By contrast, the Volkswagen Group, BMW and Mercedes-Benz overcame the crisis with barely a scratch. Afterwards they took full advantage as wealthy Chinese spent on luxury German vehicles. Germany’s automakers and their suppliers went on a hiring spree at home and abroad. There were early signs of hubris: Volkswagen paid its CEO €17.5 million in 2011. But Germany’s powerful trade unions made sure workers benefited too. In recent years production line staff at BMW and Porsche took home almost €10,000 as an annual bonus. BMW spends an average of more than €100,000 per employee on salary, pension and social security costs, according to its annual report. Now that jobs boom has come to a screeching halt, and not before time. An industry facing unprecedented upheaval cannot afford such largess. The chief reason for the belt-tightening is, of course, the vast cost of moving beyond combustion engines. Volkswagen expects to spend an astonishing €60 billion on hybrid, electric and digital technology in the next 5 years. Doing this requires the hiring of even more people, but the products they are developing are not always big money spinners yet. For a time, the industry will have to provide a full range of propulsion options. For their factories this means “peak complexity”; to borrow a phrase from Mercedes’s management. Eventually, however, many of these factory workers will become unnecessary because electric motors are much simpler to build than diesel and gasoline engines. Last week’s job cuts will not be the last. The German industry has been caught out too by an unexpected slowdown in demand. Continental, the supplier that is cutting 20.000 jobs, expects production to stagnate over the next 5 years. Daimler said last month that sales have not matched its production capacity. Audi’s domestic plants are reportedly particularly under-utilized, not helped by the popularity of SUVs over sedans (the former tend to be built overseas). Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler will still generate about €24 billion of net profit this year, according to analysts. But the era of 10 % operating profit margins (long a benchmark for German luxury automakers) is over. Mercedes thinks 4 % is more realistic next year. The automakers therefore have to tackle their bloated fixed costs. In view of its spending commitments, VW was unwise to let its workforce swell to almost 700.000 persons. That’s about 8 % more than Toyota, which builds a similar number of cars (though VW has a big truck unit too). VW’s labor expenses have crept higher as a percentage of sales since the last recession. Doubtless this reflects the influence of the German unions and hence it will be very difficult to rectify. Like their peers, German employees at the VW brand have job guarantees until 2029. Ultimately the German car jobs boom was a bet that demand would increase, combustion engines would have a long life and global trade would remain encumbered. Instead, the electric shift is happening faster than expected and Trump’s tariff crusades have turned the German industry’s global production presence into a liability. Cars are superfluous for many young people today, and if they do buy one it will soon have a simple electric motor, not a combustion engine made of hundreds of intricate components. The hiring practices of German automakers look like a bubble that has burst. +++ 

+++ It seems that we can forget about a new GLOBAL plug-in electric car sales records by the end of this year, as there is no growth, but rather declines are accelerating. In October, passenger plug-in car sales amounted to just over 149.500, which is 28 % less than a year ago. Market share also decreased to 1.9 %. Even if one would subtract China from the equation, the overall growth is just 3 %. The market is pretty volatile these days, as BEVs went down 6 %, while PHEVs went up by 18 % year-over-year. After 10 months of 2019, sales exceed 1.763.600 at an average market share of 2.2 %. The Tesla Model 3, with 13.359 estimated sales, remains the best-selling model by a huge margin, both monthly and year-to-date. With 2 months to go, the Model 3 should be able to achieve 250,000-280,000 sales this year; more than the next few models combined. Aside from Tesla, BAIC EU-Series stands out with 7.623 sales in China. Tesla is not racing for the manufacturer win anymore, as with 2 months to go it’s already secured, especially since Chinese manufacturers are struggling in its home market after the reduction of incentives. Interestingly, BMW managed to be the second best-selling brand for second time in a row, which brings back hope that Western manufacturers will be able to regain the lead in the longer-term. Next year should see Volkswagen rank pretty high too. The Top 5 during the first 10 months of 2019 are: 1. Tesla: 16.565 sales in October and 273.627 for the full year, 2. BYD: 12.084 and 198.426, 3. BAIC: 8.601 and 116.079, 4. SAIC: 9.367 and 107.086, 5. BMW: 13.070 and 103.238. +++ 

+++ Once a star of America’s biggest car shows, MERCEDES-BENZ is now abandoning them, one by one. The German luxury maker plans to skip next year’s New York auto show, after having been a central figure at the influential luxury-leaning consumer event for at least 4 decades. It is part of a bigger move by Mercedes, and one also being made by other brands around the world. In recent years, Mercedes also has dropped out of the premier U.S. auto shows in Detroit and Chicago. Only its presence at Los Angeles continues among the Tier 1 American events. But even that commitment could be in doubt. A Mercedes spokesman noted last week it is too early to say whether the brand will attend the 2020 Los Angeles Auto Show. The exit from New York could foreshadow Mercedes’ rejection of the auto show business model entirely, as the company focuses on digital and retail-based ways to engage with customers. A Mercedes spokeswoman cited the automaker’s desire to launch new products through nontraditional marketing methods to create brand awareness and engage shoppers. Mark Scheinberg, New York International Auto Show president, said he hopes Mercedes’ exit is temporary. “We don’t know what their long-term plans are. Brands change their marketing strategies. Hopefully, next year, we’ll hear back from them”. But Mercedes joins German rival BMW, which last year walked away from the New York show, despite the Big Apple being one of the biggest luxury-vehicle markets in the U.S. A BMW spokesman said the brand’s decision to leave the New York show was part of a “strategic shift to invest more in experiential events rather than static displays”. But pulling out of the New York show, which attracts more than 1 million attendees annually, is a “blow” for Mercedes’ dealers, Scheinberg said. “The response from the dealers when they heard that Mercedes is going to bypass the show was pretty strong”, he said. “They thought it didn’t make a lot of sense”. 72 % of attendees at the 2019 show expressed interest in buying a vehicle in the next 12 months. “Skipping New York is a mistake for Mercedes, given the large presence there of other luxury brands, such as Audi and Lexus”, said one East Coast Mercedes dealer who requested not to be identified. “When you’ve got the competition present at a show and you’re absent, that’s a black eye”, the dealer said. Sam Fiorani, vice president with AutoForecast Solutions, said that decisions to leave car shows are shortsighted since the shows are one of the few places for aspirational buyers to experience vehicles they were not necessarily aware of. “Where else can you get that kind of direct experience with potential customers?”, Fiorani said. As consumer shopping habits evolve and auto retailing goes digital, some automakers are looking beyond auto shows to connect to potential buyers. The 2019 North American International Auto Show was missing the 3 big German luxury brands: Mercedes, BMW and Audi. Meanwhile, Volvo and Ford skipped this year’s Geneva auto show. Auto shows are a great way to reach consumers but no longer the only way, said Stephanie Brinley, principal automotive analyst at IHS Markit. “Automakers can be more strategic in their choices, rather than filling space because it has always been so”. Brands are doing the math on the multimillion-dollar cost of flashy show-floor exhibits, press conferences and VIP events. Some are questioning whether it’s really worth it. “At the end of the day, you go, ‘OK, where’s the ROI?’ ”, said Greg Barnes, president of Bill Ussery Motors Group in Coral Gables, which operates 2 South Florida Mercedes stores. Automakers are also diverting some of their auto show budgets to local events that let prospective customers drive their newest vehicles, rather than ogle them on a stand. BMW has hosted its “Ultimate Driving Experience” roadshow in 16 U.S. cities. The events allow consumers to speak with product specialists and drive the latest models on a variety of courses. Meanwhile, Mercedes is operating temporary pop-up stores in luxury malls as it experiments with brand environments focused less on pushing metal and more on engaging consumers. The pop-ups have drawn 250,000 visitors and generated 3,000 vehicle sales at local dealerships, Mercedes said. +++ 

+++ An electric MUSTANG isn’t really a far-fetched idea. In fact, Ford worked with Webasto to create a one-off prototype of a fully-electric pony car that makes over 900 hp: the Mustang Lithium EV Concept. But Ford’s inclination to make an electrified Mustang isn’t connected to the powerful EV concept, which by the way has a 6-speed manual transmission. According to Ron Heiser, chief engineer of the recently-unveiled Mustang Mach-E, a Mustang EV should be on the horizon now that the Mach-E is out and about. Heiser explained that the Mach-E’s platform is the Blue Oval’s new EV architecture, which will underpin several Ford EVs in the future; not all will be named the Mustang. The new EV platform is highly-flexible, which allows it to be stretched or shortened, accommodate rear- or all-wheel-drive powertrain layout, or even house different types of batteries. With that said, Heiser said that a Mustang EV is a possibility, but nobody knows what the exact timeframe is. His outlook of a Mustang EV is based on the premise that the market will eventually shift to EVs. But will the future Mustang EV be as mighty as the Mustang Lithium Concept? Heiser didn’t confirm, but considering that Ford can do it with a non-EV-dedicated platform, it won’t be a stretch to expect the best from the Blue Oval. The next-generation Mustang is scheduled to come by 2021, with reports suggesting that a rear-biased, all-wheel-drive version would be available. A hybrid Mustang is also on the docket. +++ 

+++ NISSAN is struggling in Europe. It recorded the biggest sales drop for any mass-market automaker operating in Europe for the first 10 months, with volume falling nearly a quarter. Its market share has fallen from a high of 3.9 % in 2012 to 2.5 % this year. The brand has only recorded 1 single profitable year in its European operating region, including Russia, since 2013. It’s cutting a shift at its giant plant in Sunderland, England, and is shedding up to 700 jobs at its Barcelona factory in Spain. Earlier this year it announced it would stop selling its struggling Infiniti premium brand in western Europe. Nissan has arguably the strongest roots of any Japanese automaker in the region and it also has a history of brilliant innovation. So how has it sunk so low? The brand in Europe has been hit by a series of events that have knocked it off course. Nissan’s global management was rocked by scandal 13 months ago when its transformative Chairman, Carlos Ghosn, was arrested in Japan. Ghosn has denied the charges of financial misconduct and breach of trust, saying he was conspired against to prevent him from further integrating Nissan and its largest shareholder, Renault, which some executives at Nissan feared threatened the Japanese automaker’s autonomy. Ghosn’s arrest publicly revealed and exacerbated the friction between Nissan and Renault. Meanwhile, Nissan has the worst exposure of any volume manufacturer operating in Europe to the UK, which for the past 3 years has been hit by uncertainty about the country’s future trading status with the European Union after the country voted in 2016 to quit the trading bloc. Nissan’s European r&d center, main assembly plant and design center are all based in England. This has left the automaker’s executives to grapple with the potential consequences of operating outside the EU. These include tariffs, difficulty hiring and retaining European workers and border delays for parts. Nissan Europe chairman Gianluca de Ficchy has said the Sunderland plant would be “unsustainable” if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, triggering tariffs. Said Pete Kelly, managing director of LMC Automotive: “It has been a perfect storm, but like bad weather a number of these things are beyond their control. That is the tragedy”. Nissan Europe’s reputation for innovation began with the Qashqai. Nissan practically invented the compact crossover sector after launching the first-generation Qashqai in 2006. The car quickly won over customers because of its higher riding position and its looks, which were far more glamorous than the lackluster Almera that preceded it. The Qashqai’s smart design and shared technology with alliance partner Renault meant Nissan could charge as much for the crossover as the Volkswagen Golf, which has historically sold for a premium in Europe. The success of the Qashqai, which was designed in Europe and built at Sunderland, helped Nissan to make a €1 billion profit in Europe during its 2007 financial year. Now in its second generation, the Qashqai was Europe’s best-selling compact crossover last year in a sector that has grown to nearly 2 million units a year. In 2010, Nissan used the same formula that made Qashqai a success with the Juke, which transformed the niche small crossover segment into a powerhouse with more than 2 million sales a year. Also, in 2010 Nissan launched the Leaf battery-powered compact, which has topped Europe’s electric vehicle sector nearly every year since. Like the Juke and Qashqai, the Leaf is built in Sunderland. Outside of these models, however, Nissan has failed to find its feet. The second-generation Note, hurt by a wider decline in Europe’s minivan sector, was axed in 2017 after just 4 years. The Pulsar’s disastrous 4 year run in the compact hatchback segment ended in 2018 after the car failed to reach even half the company’s predicted annual sales of 64,000. The fifth-generation Micra, launched in 2017, is struggling in a competitive sector and was down 19 % in the first 9 months of the year at sales of just under 37.000 units. Nissan’s decision to localize Infiniti output in Europe was perhaps its lowest point. The premium brand was launched in the region in 2008 and failed to gain traction against dominant premium rivals from Germany. Hoping to reverse that, Nissan negotiated with Daimler to use its Mercedes-Benz GLA platform and systems as the basis for an SUV-inspired premium compact to be built in Sunderland starting in 2016. Ambitious production targets of 60.000 units for the Q30 and higher-riding QX30 were set, but never reached. In its best year, 2016, the entire Infiniti brand only managed 13.515 sales in Europe. Nissan pulled the plug on Infiniti in Europe earlier this year. Many of these decisions can be attributed to Ghosn’s relentless desire to grow at all costs. “One of Ghosn’s aims was to become biggest automaker in the world. If that’s your principle, you will chase volume at the expense of margin”, said LMC’s Kelly. Starting in 2011, Nissan’s goal in Europe was to surpass Toyota to become the region’s topselling Asian automaker by 2016. “The objective was a rallying call for the company: we needed to grow. At the time we were below 3 % market share and we needed at least 4 % in a very competitive market”, Paul Willcox, Nissan Europe’s former chairman, told. Doing so would allow Nissan to invest in product, he said. It was classic Ghosn strategy, resulting in cars such as the Pulsar and Infiniti Q30. Now Nissan Europe has a 2.5 % market share while Toyota Europe’s is more than double that. Nissan says that its grow-at-all-costs strategy is from a very different time. “We have been undergoing a significant transition for the last 2,5 years”, de Ficchy told. De Ficchy, the former head of the Renault-owned RCI Banque, replaced Willcox at the beginning of 2018 with the job of returning Nissan to profit and looking ahead to the age of electrification. Rather than boosting sales, Nissan is now willing to accept a smaller share as long as it’s making money. As a result, it has reduced its exposure to unprofitable channels such as rentals and other bulk fleet deals. It has also cut self-registrations by around 100.000 since 2017, de Ficchy said. “Most automakers have been continuously pushing into channels such as rentals or fleets”, he said. “I think the value of the brand is something we have to preserve for the future”. Nissan is still losing money, but that was to be expected, de Ficchy said. “During a transition phase you reduce your volumes, resulting in a lack of synchronization between your revenue stream and your costs”, he said. To address that, Nissan is slimming its footprint. As part of a 12.500 person global headcount reduction Nissan will cut up to 800 jobs at the Barcelona and Sunderland plants. Between 600 and 700 of those are going at Barcelona, which is in flux after the Pulsar was axed last year and the combustion-engine NV200 compact van was discontinued earlier this year. That leaves the e-NV200 electric van and 3 pickups: the Nissan Navara and the related Renault Alaskan and Mercedes X class. Daimler, however, is reportedly about to ax the X class, while Renault has struggled with the Alaskan, which accounted for just 837 sales in the first 9 months of the year in Europe. In the last financial year, Barcelona built just 88.679 vehicles at a plant with a 200.000 unit-a-year capacity. In the first half of this financial year, Barcelona production was down 32 % to just 32.288 cars. “That plant has been troublesome for them”, Ian Fletcher, principal analyst for IHS Markit, told. Nissan might be on the verge of trying to sell the Barcelona plant, according to an October report from Bloomberg. De Ficchy didn’t deny the report but stated: “We do not normally comment on speculation”. He said that Nissan saw “enormous potential” for the e-NV200 electric van built there. Experts too said that selling the factory would be difficult. “Who would you sell it too? We could speculate one of the Chinese automakers, but I’m not sure who would want to take it”, Fletcher said. Meanwhile Nissan has dropped the third shift at Sunderland in response to falling demand. The move will only cost about 100 jobs because Nissan was able to shift staff to the Juke line to cope with the expected increase in demand for the new model. Nissan cut hundreds of jobs at Sunderland in 2018. As a result, the plant’s workforce has fallen to 6.000 people from a high of 7.000. In the last financial year, Sunderland built 415.364 cars, down from a high of 518. 471 in 2016. Despite Brexit, however, it looks like the new Qashqai will be made there, securing the plant in the midterm. “The best solution is to produce the car in the UK because Sunderland is one of the most efficient plants we have”, de Ficchy said. More than 100 managerial jobs have gone too as part of a relocation of Nissan Europe’s headquarters to the outskirts of Paris from its previous location in Rolle, near Geneva, Switzerland. When Nissan put its European base in Rolle in 2008 the goal was to attract people who might have been put off by working in a Paris suburb, but the company started its return there in 2016 to save money. Nissan is also addressing its aging range. The second-generation Qashqai, revealed in 2013, was down 14 % in the first 9 months of the year, according to JATO data, while the X-Trail, also renewed in 2013, was down 62 % over the same period. It also took Nissan 10 years to bring out the second-generation Juke. This not only cost the Juke its lead in the small crossover segment, it fell out of the 10 altogether. Like many automakers, Nissan has suffered from the changeover to WLTP emissions regulations in September 2018 as it struggled to update engines to conform to the change. The good news for Nissan is that its model pipeline is stuffed with new product. “The lineup will be completely renewed in the next year and a half”, de Ficchy said. Following the Juke will be the new Qashqai, new X-Trail and a new full-electric SUV previewed by the Ariya concept unveiled at the Tokyo auto show in October. Sales of the second-generation Leaf in Europe began in early 2018 and the model returned to the top of the EV sales charts in the same year. Just replacing the Qashqai and Juke will give Nissan a 10 % sales bump by 2022, LMC’s Kelly believes. “We expect to see a significant rebound just because they are refreshed”, he said. Nissan’s new tactic is to go big on electrification, far bigger than it would need to in order to fulfill the new regulations. According to its midterm plan, Nissan assumed the overall electrified market in Europe will be about 20 percent to 24 percent by 2022. However, Nissan wants its electrified sales to reach 42 % in the region (excluding Russia) by the same date. Nissan sees this as both crucial to staying ahead of regulations and to building a brand. “If you want a sustainable business model in Europe that meets both corporate and customer regulations, you need to be far above that average”, de Ficchy said. “This gives us a presence in the market in a sustainable way, but also in terms of brand”. It would also help Nissan close a wide gap to Toyota in the electrified car sector. Gasoline-electric hybrids already account for more than half of Toyota’s European sales. Right now, Nissan has just the electric Leaf and the e-NV200 van but starting next year the Qashqai will be sold with Nissan’s e-Power serial hybrid system that has been a sales hit in Japan. De Ficchy also hinted that other SUVs will get the technology, likely the next X-Trail (which will be built in Japan, reversing Nissan’s plan to bring it to Sunderland). The boldest step will be the launch of the production version of the Ariya EV crossover, which according to one source with knowledge of the company’s thinking will be launched at a price between 50,000 euros and 70,000 euros. The idea is that that car will have the performance, range and technology levels, including Nissan’s latest ProPilot semi-autonomous system, to be able to compete against premium brands. Nissan won’t be alone in offering electric vehicles far above its usual price range. Ford has announced its Mustang Mach-E will sell for between €49,925 and €70,940 in The Netherlands. The Ariya could have been offered as an Infiniti before the brand was axed in Europe, but the reality is that battery cars are expensive and companies such as Nissan are going to have to find ways to get customers to pay more. Making the brand more exclusive by reducing discounted sales is one way to do that. This “creates a really good brand position for the future”, de Ficchy said, which helps lift prices. However, pushing past €50,000 will be tough for any company. “Maybe they are hoping Qashqai and X-Trail owners will want to step up. But knowing the people who buy the Qashqai, if they are going to step up, they would be looking for a proper premium brand for that money”, IHS’s Fletcher said. The path to profitable electrification lies in economies of scale, but it’s unclear how Nissan and Renault will maximize their potential to achieve this. The two work relatively closely in some areas. Nissan uses Renault engines and sells rebadged Renault vans. Renault builds the Micra at its plant in Flins, France, and the automakers’ newest models share the CMF platform. Renault interim CEO Clotilde Delbos, however, told analysts on a call in late October that Renault and Nissan weren’t working closely enough. “We desperately need to work now on synergies and work better together so that we can secure the future”, she said. An example of a potential missed opportunity is that Nissan has its e-Power hybrid for the Qashqai while Renault will use a separate system called E-tech. Nissan has said it will use Mitsubishi’s plug-in hybrid technology, without giving a timeframe. Having developed the Leaf and Renault Zoe electric cars separately, the 2 brands are reportedly working on a shared EV platform that will underpin the Ariya. Doing so could signify a turning point. De Ficchy didn’t comment specifically, but said: “I am strongly convinced that the alliance is a powerful opportunity that we have today and tomorrow”.

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