LOS ANGELES — Nissan’s hopes of shedding its bargain-brand reputation and regaining market share hinge on a raft of product reboots, Nissan executives said on the sidelines of the Los Angeles Auto Show.
The product revival started with the unveiling of the redesigned 2020 Sentra, and it will encompass 10 new and freshened vehicles by the end of 2020, including an electric crossover.
“New products are going to be critical” to turn the business around, David Kershaw, Nissan division vice president of sales and regional operations, told Automotive News.
By developing more “aspirational products,” Nissan hopes to attract more creditworthy customers and reduce the need for discounting, which has harmed the brand’s image and wreaked havoc on dealer margins.
Nissan division’s U.S. sales through October tumbled 6 percent, and the automaker’s 7.5 percent share of the U.S. market through three quarters trailed rivals Toyota (12.3 percent) and Honda (8.6 percent), according to the Automotive News Data Center. Meanwhile, about 30 percent of Nissan’s U.S. dealerships are losing money, with an additional 10 percent merely breaking even, a person familiar with the data said this summer.
The latest model reboot was revealed last week. The Sentra compact sedan amps up in power and design, hoping to capture more of the evaporating market for sedans. Riding on a new platform, the eighth-generation Sentra is powered by a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that delivers 149 hp, up 19 percent from the current generation’s 1.8-liter engine.
The revamp across the portfolio, including redesigns of crossovers and pickups, aims to improve the brand’s appeal to consumers.
“Going from somewhat of the oldest lineup in the industry, at least of the Asian brands, this will be an opportunity for us to have some fresh things that are out there,” Kershaw said. “We are going to really talk about the attributes of our product and what’s important to the customer — technology and safety obviously being key drivers of that.”