Nissan is also addressing its aging range. The second-generation Qashqai, revealed in 2013, was down 14 percent in the first nine months of the year, according to JATO data, while the X-Trail midsize SUV, also renewed in 2013, was down 62 percent over the same period.
It also took Nissan 10 years to bring out the second-generation Juke. This not only cost the Juke its lead in the small crossover segment, it fell out of the 10 altogether.
Like many automakers, Nissan has suffered from the changeover to WLTP emissions regulations in September 2018 as it struggled to update engines to conform to the change.
The good news for Nissan is that its model pipeline is stuffed with new product. "The lineup will be completely renewed in the next year and a half," de Ficchy said.
Following the Juke will be the new Qashqai, new X-Trail and a new full-electric SUV previewed by the Ariya concept unveiled at the Tokyo auto show in October.
Sales of the second-generation Leaf in Europe began in early 2018 and the model returned to the top of the EV sales charts in the same year.
Just replacing the Qashqai and Juke will give Nissan a 10 percent sales bump by 2022, LMC's Kelly believes. "We expect to see a significant rebound just because they are refreshed," he said.
Nissan's new tactic is to go big on electrification, far bigger than it would need to in order to fulfill the new regulations. According to its midterm plan, Nissan assumed the overall electrified market in Europe will be about 20 percent to 24 percent by 2022.
However, Nissan wants its electrified sales to reach 42 percent in the region (excluding Russia) by the same date. Nissan sees this as both crucial to staying ahead of regulations and to building a brand.
"If you want a sustainable business model in Europe that meets both corporate and customer regulations, you need to be far above that average," de Ficchy said. "This gives us a presence in the market in a sustainable way, but also in terms of brand."
It would also help Nissan close a wide gap to Toyota in the electrified car sector. Gasoline-electric hybrids already account for more than half of Toyota's European sales.
Right now, Nissan has just the electric Leaf and the e-NV200 van but starting next year the Qashqai will be sold with Nissan's e-Power serial hybrid system that has been a sales hit in Japan.
De Ficchy also hinted that other SUVs will get the technology, likely the next X-Trail (which will be built in Japan, reversing Nissan's plan to bring it to Sunderland).
The boldest step will be the launch of the production version of the Ariya EV crossover, which according to one source with knowledge of the company's thinking will be launched at a price between 50,000 euros and 70,000 euros.
The idea is that that car will have the performance, range and technology levels, including Nissan's latest ProPilot semi-autonomous system, to be able to compete against premium brands.
Nissan won't be alone in offering electric vehicles far above its usual price range. Ford has announced its Mustang Mach-E SUV will sell for between 46,900 euros and 66,800 euros in Germany.
The Ariya could have been offered as an Infiniti before the brand was axed in Europe, but the reality is that battery cars are expensive and companies such as Nissan are going to have to find ways to get customers to pay more.
Making the brand more exclusive by reducing discounted sales is one way to do that. This "creates a really good brand position for the future," de Ficchy said, which helps lift prices.
However, pushing past 50,000 euros will be tough for any company. "Maybe they are hoping Qashqai and X-Trail owners will want to step up. But knowing the people who buy the Qashqai, if they are going to step up, they would be looking for a proper premium brand for that money," IHS's Fletcher said.
The path to profitable electrification lies in economies of scale, but it's unclear how Nissan and Renault will maximize their potential to achieve this. The two work relatively closely in some areas. Nissan uses Renault engines and sells rebadged Renault vans. Renault builds the Micra at its plant in Flins, France, and the automakers' newest models share the CMF platform.
Renault Interim CEO Clotilde Delbos, however, told analysts on a call in late October that Renault and Nissan weren't working closely enough. "We desperately need to work now on synergies and work better together so that we can secure the future," she said.
An example of a potential missed opportunity is that Nissan has its e-Power hybrid for the Qashqai while Renault will use a separate system called E-tech.
Nissan has said it will use Mitsubishi's plug-in hybrid technology, without giving a timeframe.
Having developed the Leaf and Renault Zoe electric cars separately, the two brands are reportedly working on a shared EV platform that will underpin the Ariya.
Doing so could signify a turning point. De Ficchy didn't comment specifically, but said: "I am strongly convinced that the alliance is a powerful opportunity that we have today and tomorrow."