GLOBAL sales at car manufacturer Nissan have picked up by nearly 12% in the last six months, hitting £20.7bn, with the Sunderland-built Qashqai model one of the star performers.
In a period when the world’s big car manufacturers are finding life quite tough, Nissan appears to be performing quite well – though pre-tax profits were flat at £1.5bn and the bottom line, after tax figure fell some 22.5% though Nissan said this was partly due to higher taxes than previously.
Despite falling sales right across the US, Europe, and Japan, overall Nissan vehicle sales increased 6.3% during the six months, to 1.8 million units.
And chief executive Carlos Ghosn said the company was on target to sell 3.7 million vehicles for the full year, which would be a record performance.
Mr Ghosn said: “We’ve made progress on many fronts. We’re on track to deliver our full-year objectives.”
While the company is still behind its Japanese rivals Toyota and Honda in terms of the profit margins its vehicles achieve, the business is gaining ground.
In Europe, known as a stagnating market where all manufacturers are finding it tough to sell cars, Nissan’s sales rose 10.5% to 304,000, driven by a doubling of sales in Russia.
At Nissan’s key European factory in Sunderland, where it has more than 4,300 workers, the Qashqai model has proven to be the star performer with the Japanese company announcing extra investment of £2.4m in June this year to ramp up production further. And now the company is to produce the model in Japan too to keep up with demand. Nissan expects to see 20% more Qashqais sold this year than first expected – 185,000 cars.
Tony Willard, industry editor of Automotive Management magazine, said: “I think the turning point has been the Qashqai. It seems to be a genuine success, and I’m told by Nissan UK that they could have sold of them more in September (if they had the production capacity), and now they are going to produce in Japan too, they will start to see real progress on sales.
“I think the Qashqai is a really good car and it’s just right for what people are looking for at the moment.”