Nissan Europe Chairman Paul Willcox celebrated his first full year back at the automaker after a short stint with Volkswagen by leading the Japanese brand to new highs in sales and market share. Nissan, along with value brand Datsun, increased 2014 sales 13 percent to 724,613 vehicles and boosted its market share in Europe, including Russia, to 4.0 percent from 3.7 percent in 2013. While its 2015 European volume has risen sharply so far on strong demand for the second-generation Qashqai crossover, the collapse of sales in Russia, Nissan’s No. 1 sales market in the region last year, is giving Willcox headaches. Despite the troubles in Russia, Willcox told Automotive News Europe Correspondent Nick Gibbs that Nissan will be profitable again in Europe this year.
Is Nissan profitable in Europe?
Yes we are. Last year we had a record year. In the regions I’m responsible for [Europe and Russia] we were up 13.2 percent and we broke through the 4 percent market share barrier.
And will you be profitable in 2015?
Yes. The biggest concern in the short term/midterm is Russia. Our forecast for 2015 is a big contraction of the total market to 1.8 million to 1.9 million sales, down from 2.3 million in 2014.
How have you had to react to Russia’s collapse?
Because of the exchange rate impact, the average price of Nissan products has increased 20 percent in line with the market average. Some increased more. GM went up 33 to 34 percent, while the Koreans were slightly lower.