Nissan shows dealers a new retail model, says more EVs coming

As factory production and supply chains normalize, Nissan expects U.S. sales to continue rebounding from pandemic-era lows.

U.S. sales boss Judy Wheeler predicted a 30 percent sales hike in fiscal 2023, which ends March 31, 2024. That momentum should lift Nissan’s market share to 6 percent.

Top brass assured retailers in attendance that Nissan will not adopt a factory-direct sales model, despite the success of Tesla and other EV startups in that area and some legacy automakers seeking to work around the franchise dealer model.

“We are in it with our dealers,” Colleran said. “We like the attachment and the connections to the local communities … and the service [dealers can] provide.”

But Nissan and its retailers must rethink some of their old business ways, Colleran said.

“Change is upon us. Those that can’t change, they’re going to find it difficult,” he said. “But those that find that secret sauce to change, they’re going to flourish.”

Nissan will use software and technology to drive “brand ecosystem stickiness,” as consumers are getting more deeply embedded into brands, Colleran explained.

“Technology enables that,” he said.

Nissan executives also called for more data sharing between the manufacturer and retailers to drive customer satisfaction. “We believe that the biggest change will be the battle for the customer,” Colleran said.

The automaker is planning to take an “integrated approach” to customer relationship management to create a richer profile of the shopping preferences, purchases and service history of its customers. Data sharing would allow Nissan to tailor marketing campaigns and help its dealers identify prospects, craft customized offers and provide service more efficiently.

“It’s about sharing a little bit more information for the [customer’s benefit],” Colleran said of the project, internally referred to as One CRM. “There’ll be some dealers that might be wary of that at the start.”

Nissan National Dealer Advisory Board Chairman Tyler Slade sees the value in more data sharing with the factory if it improves customer satisfaction.

“What is good for the customer is good for the dealer,” said Slade, operating partner for Tim Dahle Nissan Southtowne in suburban Salt Lake City. “We certainly don’t want to push back so hard that we become bad partners, and it makes legacy OEMs want to go to direct sales.”

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