INTERVIEW | Four questions with Nissan SA's Liz Gorbunov
Liz Gorbunov is the chief marketing manager of light commercial vehicles and sport-utility vehicles at Nissan SA. We picked her brain on the directions of these two divisions.
1: Give us a brief history of the sport-utility vehicle genre in the Nissan context. Where did it begin and where is it now?
In 2008 we launched one of the first crossovers, the Qashqai. As a result, we had two tasks: explaining what an SUV is, and how to pronounce Qashqai. In 2020, both terms roll off the tongue of the consumer naturally. The second-generation Qashqai added to its success from 2013, and most recently we’ve launched a special version of the current generation, the sleek Qashqai Midnight Edition, which hit the streets last month.
2: How long before SUV models totally supplant long-standing, conventional formats (sedan, hatchback) in popularity?
The SUV segment is the fastest-growing segment in SA. Although local motorists are passionate about bakkies, within the SA passenger vehicle segment, 27% of vehicles being delivered to customers are now SUVs or crossovers. We have noticed more consumers are turning to SUVs when considering their next vehicles for many reasons, ranging from enabling more adventure or family trips to additional comfort and luxury.
3: What new products are on the cards from Nissan in this arena and how soon can buyers see them in SA?
Nissan Motor Co Ltd earlier this year unveiled a four-year plan to achieve sustainable growth, financial stability and profitability by the end of fiscal year 2023. Part of this plan was launching 12 new models over 18 months, and we recently launched the Z Proto, Magnite (coming to SA in 2021), Qashqai Midnight Edition, Patrol and the upcoming Nissan Navara from early 2021.
4: Nissan is renowned for performance machines like the GT-R and Z. When will we see a Nissan SUV that truly embodies the 'sport' aspect of the title, like those nameplates?
We know there’s is a little GT-R or Z flair in all of us and are proud of our performance heritage, but what really comes to life in all our vehicles is our Nissan Intelligent Mobility (NIM) technology that helps drivers, and is our look towards the future of the driving experience. NIM technology is present in several of our products already in SA, like the Patrol, X-Trail, Qashqai and soon to be manufactured locally Nissan Navara.