By Mike Baños
Everything’s coming up roses for Nissan Philippines Inc.
Or as the saying goes in the vernacular, “Kulay rosas ang bukas!”
We gathered as much from two of the head honchos of the Philippines’ fourth best-selling brand which climbed one rung higher to fourth in total sales for 2021, surpassing Suzuki Philippines.
Per records of the Philippine Automotive Dealers Association (PADA), NPI sold 19,603 units for a 6.7 percent share of the market.
However, NPI aims to do even better next year, according to Rollie Z. Navarro, NPI General Manager for Sales, whom we interviewed during the Cagayan de Oro leg of the Nissan Intelligent Mobility Tour 3 held November 18-20 at the Limketkai Center.
Bannered by the all-new Livina, the road show also highlighted the recently launched All-New Nissan Kicks e-POWER, the new Nissan Navara Calibre-X 4×2 variant, the Nissan Terra VL variant, and the Nissan Almera.
Guests had a first-hand look at the Nissan Intelligent Mobility features and the recently introduced e-POWER technology through interactive and immersive augmented reality displays.
“NIM Tour in Cagayan de Oro will showcase all our products more focused on the all new Nissan Livina, also to feature the newly launched Nissan Kicks with ePower technology serving part of the electrification plans of Nissan Philippines,” Mr. Navarro said.
The All-New Nissan Livina marks the first time ever NPI enters into the 7-seater MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) segment.
Mr. Navarro said this is part of NPI’s transformation plan to reach out to a different set of customers with the all-new 7-seater MPV.
The all-new Nissan Livina is a reliable vehicle for family-oriented households and first-time car buyers looking for everyday excitement and convenience,” Mr. Navarro explained.
Aimed at new families with 2-3 kids, and a P1.2-1.5M price point which makes it very affordable, it continues Nissan’s Heritage of family-oriented vehicles.
“You know you’re a mom/parent when safety and space are top priorities in picking out your next car. The all-new #NissanLivina stood out for me for many reasons,” noted Ms. Melai Bacor, a CDO Blogger who test-drove the all-new Livina.
“It truly is a family car. It can seat a big family! It has the storage spaces you need to keep everything in place. There’s a nook and canny for everything! As a mom/parent, I always prefer keeping Kara in a car seat. The all-new Nissan Livina is ISOFIX ready, making car seat installation easy, quick and secure!”
To those not familiar with it, the Nissan Kicks is powered by an all-electric motor that delivers high-performance Electric Vehicle-like driving the wheels with a separate gas engine whose sole purpose is to charge its lithium batteries.
“So all throughout you will be using the electric drive powered by the batteries, which gives you 23-25 kms per liter mileage, but some customers even exceed that estimate, so they are really satisfied with it,” Mr. Navarro noted. “Not only does it also have a very comfortable and quiet ride, unlike other EVs (electric vehicles( it has instantaneous response to your accelerate pedal. So you have a very powerful vehicle, on top of good handling, and excellent safety features thanks to its NIM features.”
The Kicks e-POWER’s advanced safety features help monitor your vehicle’s systems, assist you in handling unexpected situations, and help to protect you in the unfortunate event of an accident.
While older motorists still have some reservations about it, Mr. Navarro disclosed the response from younger buyers have been enthusiastic, especially those who are into advanced EV techs, the fact that it’s autonomous of charging station, and likes to help the environment with its low emissions, he added.
Ms. Cookie Orteza, one of the young Mommy Bloggers from CDO Bloggers who test drove the Kicks, had this experience to share:
“I’ve been driving a manual transmission car for the last 20 years so I am quite unfamiliar with an automatic. Nevertheless, I found the Nissan Kicks very smooth and comfortable to drive. You can hardly even hear the noise from the outside. It’s true what they say about it being Electric-driven, Gas-charged and powered to thrill.”
Mr. Jeff Rolida, President & Dealer Principal of NISSAN CAGAYAN DE ORO Distributors Inc. with branches in Zamboanga City, Pagadian City, Dipolog City and Valencia City affirms this trend.
“We have younger buyers in Cebu and Cagayan. Older ones 45 years and above are usually more conservative because this is new to them,” he said.
He attributes this selling point to the fact that because unlike a gas or diesel engine, an electric engine does not increase mileage when it encounters adverse driving conditions.
“The 1.2 cc gas engine recharges the lithium battery only when it’s down to 30 percent. This technology has been utilized in Europe for five years now,” he said.
Thus, its outstanding mileage makes it the main selling point for young buyers, followed by the attraction to innovative tech of its unique EV-hybrid drive, and its unique driving experience with one pedal driving.
“You can choose driving modes with the brake pedal only for emergency braking. Quiet with virtually no engine noise and minimal emissions,” Mr. Rolida noted.
Meanwhile, NIM Tour 3 also presented the Terra VL variant early this year, refreshed with enhanced exteriors and interiors, giving the vehicle a refreshed and bolder look. The introduction is part of the company’s commitment to Filipino customers to deliver stylish, tech advanced vehicles that are exciting to drive.
Not the least, NIP has introduced its Navara Caliber-X 4 x 2 variant in response to market demand.
At a price point of P1.7-1.8 million, it boasts the same robustness which has made the Navara the most sought after in the Pick-Up Truck segment.
“The Navara Calibre-X 4×2 is built with an aggressive grille that’s designed with the black Nissan emblem, quad LED projector headlights with daytime running lights, LED tail lamps, and 17-inch gloss black alloy wheels,” Mr. Navarro said.
“It’s not all about looks, because the Navara Calibre-X 4×2 is also equipped with the innovative and stylish Zero Gravity front seats with black leather and orange accent stitching. To top it off, every trip is an enjoyable experience thanks to the seamless connectivity from Apple CarPlay and Android Auto,” he added.
While NIP still carries diesel driven vehicles in response to what the market looks for, it has also ramped up the introduction of more gasoline and EV models in response to changes in fuel pricing.
This is best exemplified by the top of the line Nissan Patrol Royale, which despite its price from the base variant 5.6 V8 4×4 AT to its top-spec variant, has consistently been in high demand with a long waiting list.
“Our Nissan Patrol Royale consistently is an in-demand segment that’s been selling very well in Mindanao, with a 2-3 month waiting list nationwide,” Mr. Navarro said. “With our growing improvement in supply inventory, hopefully this can shorten once we get a better supply.”
This was confirmed by Mr. Rolida, not only for the Royale, but other best-selling models as well.
“We are selling out top of the line 2-3 Patrol Royales every month for the entire Northern Mindanao Region,” he said.
“The outlook is very bright but our problem is the lack of inventory. Our queue for the Kicks ePower is five months, so everything has to be synchronized: production, output, sales and marketing,” he added.
However, he remains optimistic because of the Philippines’ resilient economy and how demand has remained steady despite the pandemic.
“So we are hard up to provide what the market needs with our factories just ramping up to pre-pandemic levels,” he noted.
“With our refreshed models and the introduction of new vehicles like the all-new Livina, we intend to really reach out to a bigger market, and hopefully be able to satisfy the needs of the customer,” Mr. Navarro declared. “Eventually, with that, we can improve our penetration and presence in the Philippine market.”