The South African launch of the next-generation Nissan Navara, which will be produced at Nissan’s plant in Rosslyn in Pretoria following a R3 billion investment, has been further delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nissan South Africa Marketing Director Stefan Haasbroek confirmed on Tuesday that sales of the new Navara single and double cab variants will now commence in June 2021 in both the domestic market and 42 pan-African countries.
Nissan SA previously reported that the Navara would be launched in the first quarter of this year after earlier indicating that production would commence in November 2020.
“We have already produced our first trial [Navara] units. The final volume production will be delayed by an appropriate amount of time to support the June start of sales.
“In terms of production, the process of starting production of a new vehicle is not simply a switch that you switch on. It’s a complex array of processes that finally results in the full-on production of a vehicle,” he said.
Haasbroek also announced that the Rosslyn plant will stop production of the NP 300 Hardbody from about November 2021 to honour Nissan’s commitment to continually modernise its lineup.
He said sales of the NP 300 Hardbody will continue with current stock and stockpiles until it is eventually replaced by the Navara.
“The Nissan Navara forms part of the Nissan Next journey, a four-year plan that is focused on two strategic areas at Nissan SA.
“The key for us is that it’s part of our growth strategy with the aim of becoming a LCV [light commercial vehicle] base in terms of manufacturing for the Africa, Middle East and India region.
“This is also part of Nissan’s global plan to roll out 12 new models over the next 18 months,” he said.
Haasbroek said the delay will not result in any risk to the employment of any of Nissan SA’s employees or employees in its supply chain.
It has also not had any negative impact on the investment in the Rosslyn plant.
Further investment ‘supported’
“In fact, some of the countermeasures to secure the soonest possible production and start-of-sales date required further investment and the company supported that without hesitation.
“In addition, I can assure you that the Covid-19 pandemic has not limited or delayed any investment from Nissan South Africa’s side. The investments that we have announced have all been implemented and executed and we look forward to future investment for the success of Navara and driving higher and higher production volumes in South Africa,” he said.
Haasbroek reiterated that Africa is a critical region for Nissan.
“It is globally one of the fastest growing territories in terms of total industry volumes and therefore we will continue to enhance our product offering through vehicles like the Navara and expand both our offering and footprint throughout the region with the aim to achieve our full potential.
“The Nissan Next transformation plan aims to ensure steady growth instead of excessive sales expansion. We will continue to concentrate on our core competencies and enhance the quality of our business while maintaining financial discipline and focusing on net revenue per unit to achieve profitability,” he said.
Haasbroek said the new Navara will have a local content of around 50% when full production commences, which has resulted in a few unique new component suppliers investing in South Africa and tie-ups between global and local suppliers.
Haasbroek was coy about the Navara volumes that will be produced by the Nissan plant, confirming only that Nissan SA intends to have a healthy and significant share of this market segment and about 40% of the Navara production will be exported.
He said exports of the Navara to markets outside Africa have not yet been confirmed.
“We are in the process of confirming those. The global automotive manufacturing business is competitive and globally the company will make a decision on the most competitive source of supply.
“Like any other OEM [original equipment manufacturer], we are working to prove the competitiveness of our product for export markets outside of Africa,” he said.