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Nissan’s Sentra in auto sweet spot

Car will be priced upwards of $15,000 between volume sellers Sunny and Altima

Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News
The launch of new Nissan Sentra at Reel Cinema in Dubai Mall. With Sentra’s arrival, Nissan willstop imports of the Tiida sedan to these markets, which will be available only in hatchback version.
Gulf News

Dubai: Nissan’s newly launched Sentra hopes to find a sweet spot between the carmaker’s volume sellers Sunny and Altima and in time consolidate the carmaker’s hold in the region’s mid-sized sedan category. It will not be, a top Nissan official confirmed, a replacement for the Sunny, presently the model which sells the most in Nissan’s regional line-up.

“Sunny offers value for money while Sentra is for buyers looking at upscale features in a mid-sized sedan,” said Samir Chefan, director - sales and marketing at Nissan M. E. “We believe the two models can be quite complementary.”

Available in 1.6- and 1.8-litre capacity, the first shipments of the Sentra are to arrive later this month and will be priced at around $15,000 and go up to $20,000. Pre-orders have been open for the last three months. Apart from a roomy interior, the model is fitted out with dual zone climate control, intelligent key and rear view camera, features that are not common within this category.

But with Sentra’s arrival, Nissan will stop imports of the Tiida sedan to these markets, which will now be available only in the hatchback version.

“In the C segment, Nissan has a 32 per cent share in the year to November through Sunny, parts of Tiida and Altima while Toyota has 24 per cent,” said Chefan. “Tiida had faced some capacity issues, but with Sentra’s arrival we can look to improve our share in this crucial category.”

Nissan intends to finetune a marketing pitch to push the Sentra awareness - anything over 25 per cent is rated as good - among its intended audience.

In three years, the expectations are that Sentra would contribute 25,000 units in these markets. (In comparison, the Tiida version now totals 7,000 units, while Sunny helps out with 31,000 units to the overall Nissan volumes. Altima, meanwhile, is close to 20,000 units and will get a supporting hand from the late October launch of the latest version.)

“It needs more than three months for volumes to ramp up on any model; for instance on the Patrol monthly averages were 600 units and went to do 1,500 units with the new Patrol,” said Chefan. “The dynamics for the region’s auto market have been on a good footing and we expect it to continue.”

In the Gulf markets, Nissan’s volumes were around the 80,000-unit mark in the period April to November. The Japanese carmaker has been expanding its model line-up for the region, which saw five all-new models getting introduced in the last 12 months.