The manufacturer aims to remain at the fore of the pick-up market while increasing its influence across other market sectors, James Dallas reports
The Nissan Navara fought off stiff competition to scoop the 2017 What Van? Pick-up of the Year award.
In winning the prize the Navara overcame the challenges of Mitsubishi with the L200, Ford with the Ranger, Volkswagen with the Amarok, Toyota with the Hilux, as well as a sector debut from Fiat Professional with its L200-based Fullback.
Also vying for attention is Ssangyong, with its new truck – the Musso – while Isuzu has this year made the sector even more competitive with the launch of its latest D-max range, which, like the Hilux and the Ranger, is available in single, extended and double-cab formats whereas the Navara comes just as a King-cab (extended-cab) and double-cab. As yet Nissan has no plans to introduce a single-cab but suggests it could add one to its product line if customer demand increased.
Intriguingly, to keep hold of its position at the top of the pile, Nissan will, from the final quarter of 2017, have to fend off the fresh challenges of a pair of debut models based on the Navara itself – the Renault Alaskan and the Mercedes-Benz X-class.
But the fact that other brands are choosing to base their models on the Navara is, alongside winning the coveted What Van? award, an endorsement of its quality. As Iker Lazzari, Nissan’s fleet sales director, says: “Coming from a well-respected industry title, What Van?’s Pick-up of the Year Award is a great accolade for the Navara and Nissan is very proud to be the recipient of this award. The award speaks for itself and from a marketing perspective it’s great to be able to reference it at every available opportunity.”
ABOVE: Iker Lazzari: ‘Navara offers class-leading equipment and value for money’
In the UK lifestyle models dominate the pick-up market and of the five Navara trim levels on offer the flagship Tekna accounts for more than four out of five sales, according to Lazzari.
He adds, however, that the truck’s in-car comfort, which is derived from Nissan’s SUV pedigree, combined with its rugged load-carrying ability means that it appeals to both SMEs and large operator fleets.
VW’s Amarok has raised the bar in terms of pick-up truck luxury and the Mercedes X-Class will be targeted firmly at the high end of the market too, so is there a danger the Navara could be crowded out? Lazzari doesn’t think so, arguing that the Tekna’s popularity shows how well suited it is to lifestyle customers.
“We welcome competition from other models and are confident the Navara’s talents will ensure it remains competitive in its sector,” he says. Lazzari prefers not to speculate on how Renault and Mercedes will promote their Navara-based products but claims the Nissan model “will continue to offer class-leading levels of equipment and value for money for its sector”.