GENEVA –says it will launch 15 new vehicles in Europe over the next three years, beginning with the all-new Note compact hatchback, and that it is on pace to become the No.1 Asian brand in Europe.
WardsAutodata showscurrently at No.3, having sold 673,969 vehicles in Europe in 2012. The top Asian brand for the year was (792,923), followed by (677,589).
In addition, sales last year were up for bothand , 7.6% and 1.8%, respectively, but down 1.9% for Nissan, compared with the prior year.
Still, Nissan maintains its product onslaught and aggressive plans to boost production on the continent will power the auto maker past its two rivals.
“Our manufacturing plants in the U.K., Russia and Spain are booming,” Andy Palmer, Nissan’s executive vice president, says at the auto show here.
“In 2011, we had a record year in the U.K, and we smashed – smashed – that record again in 2012, producing an unbelievable half a million units more than any other British car plant has ever produced in one year.”
Since 2010, the Sunderland factory has been working three shifts, 24 hours a day to meet demand for Qashqai compact cross/utility vehicles, sales of which exceeded 250,000 units last year.
This summer, Palmer says the Sunderland plant will begin production of the Note and Leaf electric vehicle.
“In Barcelona, we’re building a new pickup. Soon, we’ll be adding our second electric vehicle – the eNV200,” he says. The Barcelona truck plant also will build its first-ever car, an all-new C-segment hatchback.
“In Russia, the story’s the same: We’re expanding our manufacturing facilities and new models are set to roll off the line,” he says.
Across Europe, Nissan has produced 10 million vehicles since 1982.
“We’re going to continue to bring as many innovative technologies as possible within reach of the greatest number of people,” he says. “And with this focus, we’re right on track to become the No.1 Asian brand in Europe.”
Nissan has increased market share 50% in four years, including 2012’s record-high 3.8%, says Paul Willcox, senior vice president-marketing in Europe.
“All this has been delivered against a shrinking market and in a really tough financial climate,” Willcox says. “Our commitment is to design in Europe, engineer in Europe and, critically, manufacture cars in Europe.”
Willcox pegs Note annual sales at more than 100,000 units, saying European customers will be drawn to innovative technologies such as blindspot warning, object detection and “Around View Monitor.”