We very much doubt that Nissan’s decision to leave the Supercars competition at the conclusion of the 2018 season will have a dramatic impact on sales in Australia.
People who rely on their cars to start when they want them to, go where they want them to go and go in style do not make buying decisions based on how the cars perform on the racecourse.
The exit of one of Japan’s premier brands might have more serious implications for Kelly racing, the team that has been driving souped-up Altimas on the Supercar circuit since 2012.
Nissan will still sell the same number of Pathfinders, Navaras, Qashqais, etc., but Kelly Racing will eventually have to find another maker.
“I would say that we’ve found a way of maximising our involvement in the sport, irrespective of how fast our cars are,” Nissan Australia’s then-CEO Richard Emery said in 2016.“Nissan owners tend to be more connected to V8 Supercars, and when you talk about what sort of cars they own, they own SUVs and Navaras — or vehicles in that category. So, bizarrely, V8 Supercars helps us engage with consumers who are likely to buy an SUV or a light commercial vehicle as much as it does with passenger cars.”
Emery is gone now and his successor Stephen Lester was the one who delivered the news.
“I would say we have a different strategic direction for the company that, at this point, does not involve the Supercars series,” Lester said.
As a performance marque, Nissan did not exactly scorch any Australian pavement. In five full seasons and to this point in 2018, they won two race and qualified at the front of the grid three times.
Kelly Racing will still use Altimas in 2019 and in all probability, beyond, but they will no longer have the backing of the corporation, so they might have to find some sponsorship deals to help support the racing effort.
At some point, if the team wishes to continue in Supercars, they might be compelled to switch to Ford or Holden, or find another manufacturer entirely.