NIssan Canada: new points in 2010 and NV in 2011

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Nissan Canada expanded cautiously in 2010, adding 10 new stores, bringing its national total to 162.

“What we did was what we did was look at where our key competitors, Toyota, Honda and Hyundai, had a foothold,” said Jean-Luc Lemire, director of sales for Nissan Canada. “We wanted to be on consumers’ shopping lists and convenient for them to service their cars. We didn’t want them to drive a couple of hours to do so.”

Still, Lemire said the automaker wouldn’t open a point just to keep up with the competition. The stores it plants have to be profitable. So don’t expect the automaker to try to put up a store wherever there’s a Toyota or Honda pylon. It’s not going to match the other two Japanese automakers store for store. There will be no store wars.

“We aren’t going as drastically as that. We want our dealers to be profitable.”

Newcomers to the dealership lineup include Alma Nissan (Alma, Que.), Cowansville Nissan (Cowansville, Que.), Prestige Nissan (Montreal), Parkway Nissan (Stoney Creek, Ont.) and Evergreen Nissan in Prince Albert, Sask.

Parkway Nissan fills the gap between stores in Welland and Hamilton while Nissan hopes Evergreen will be able to take advantage of the growing Prince Albert community. Prestige is the automaker’s new entry on the island of Montreal.

The automaker thinks it has the right array of products from the Versa to the high performance GT-R, gives it a model -- with the exception of a minivan -- to please all consumers.

But the new year will see Nissan’s lineup expand with its entry into the commercial van market and the debut of 22 new dealerships, sort of.

“They are current dealers,” Lemire said, “But we will be adding a new franchise to their name as we focus on the light commercial van market.”

That means the chosen ones will be expanding their showroom and service department space to house the new arrivals. As its light truck lineup and sales grow, so will the number of stores sporting the NV (Nissan van) signs, he said.

Ted Troughton, Nissan Canada’s senior manager market representation, sees the new entries as another way to make the automaker competitive in even the smallest markets.

The early spring will see the debut of the NV 2500 low and high roof models to do battle with the Ford Transit, GM Savana and Sprinter.

Lemire points out that while Nissan may be a newcomer to the light truck market here, it boast sales of over 750,000 light trucks globally. He warns that the competition shouldn’t expect modified Titan and Frontier models.

“We will be bringing new offerings to market. Some of the technology on the domestic side - Ford and GM -  has been a little bit behind. We are taking a look at segments some of the other manufacturers have abandoned. We will have all-new vehicles and new solutions the competition doesn’t offer.”

As it was in 2010, expansion will be measured. The automaker is looking to add another dealership in Newfoundland but refuses to say where else.

“2011 looks very good to us. Expanding the dealer network is important, but we want to make sure all our dealers are profitable.”