Nissan to Restore Tier 1 Market in Thailand

By: Correy Putton

Japan's Nissan Motor Company launched a new pickup truck called the Frontier Navada in Thailand. The truck was set forth with high hopes and with an aim: to increase sales in the country to 55,000 units in the 2007-2008 business year and help it catch up with rivals.

"Our strategy is to restore the Nissan brand to the Tier 1 market in Thailand by 2009 alongside Toyota and Honda, partly through the introduction of more new products," Thierry Viadieu, the president of local unit Siam Nissan Automobile Co., told reporters in the Thai capital.

The automaker expects the new pickup truck to sell 40,000 units in the business year starting in April, exceeding its total sales that include passenger cars. Nissan, held 44 per cent by France's Renault SA, intends to start exports of the locally produced Frontier Navara for the first time in the third quarter of this year. Nissan's spokeswoman in Tokyo also divulged this information.

The Nissan Frontier Navara uses upgraded to improve its performance and capabilities. The Navara's existence could be traced since 1986. The automaker was the pioneer in the compact pickup truck segment and industry. Nissan has started truck manufacturing in 1959. The aftermath of the venture is the Nissan Frontier. The Frontier was introduced in 1997 for the 1998 model year as a replacement for the aging 1986. Toyota followed the truck manufacture in the 1960s.

Where Toyota Motor Corp. and Isuzu Motors Ltd. are profitably selling in Thailand, Nissan is deemed a laggard. In addition, Toyota and Isuzu seize approximately four-fifths of the pickup market. Nissan vehicles, on the other hand, accounted for just 4.5 per cent of the total Thai vehicle market in 2006.

Viadieu added that 2007 was a "critical" year in which Nissan hoped to raise its market share to 8 per cent in Thailand. He also said the automaker would beef up its Thai dealership network and offer better financing packages through its wholly-owned unit - Nissan Leasing Thailand. The latter started business ventures last year.

With the downturn in Thailand, Nissan intends to make better this year and in the next years to come. It is eager to put up a tough battle with auto giants in the territory to achieve its targets under a 3-year plan that runs until March 2008.

It can be recalled that the automaker in 2004, announced its plan to sell 130,000 units over the 2005-2007 business years, the launch of 8 to 9 new models, and a ramp-up in local production capacity to 200,000 units a year. Nissan is now powered to manufacture 46,000 vehicles every year. A new 3-year plan for 2008-2010 is due to be announced in July, the spokesperson of the automaker added.

From its very first truck manufacture, the automaker is famed for its notable . These advanced auto parts paved way for the introduction of Nissan's firsts in the compact pickup truck market including the first extended cab bodystyle in the 1979 Nissan King Cab, and the first crew cab bodystyle compact pickup in the D22 Navara.

Since 1986, Nissan has created 3 generations of the Navara. The first generation was the D21, a small pickup. The second generation of the Nissan Navara came a decade after D21 existence. The Nissan Navara D22, a compact pickup, was manufactured from 1998 and went until 2005. The second generation Navara was replaced by bigger, taller, longer D40 - a midsize pickup truck.

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