Insight from Tokyo Show: Nissan SA plant still ‘very much’ part of future plans

Published Nov 2, 2023


With the local Nissan Rosslyn plant currently in turmoil with the imminent demise of the NP200 bakkie next year and hundreds of staff members facing retrenchment, Nissan Global CEO Makoto Uchida says the plant is still very much part of the Nissan Global plan.

Currently the facility manufactures the Nissan Navara bakkie for local consumption and export into Africa and the NP200 which means when its run ends it will only be making one vehicle.

Speaking at the Japan Mobility Show Uchida said that it fits into their plans as part of expanding the journey of the company.

Without divulging any specific details of what can be expected going forward he said: “Yes in South Africa and Africa we are looking at a lot of potential but we need to be prepared for the future and we are looking at what can be done in the region and what the plans for the expansion of the Africa region is, so yes for us it’s very important.”

As the first company to introduce a fully electric mass produced car with the Nissan Leaf the company is obviously building on that success with battery electric vehicles (BEV) and their e-power very much at the forefront of development going forward.

“Our corporate purpose is driving innovation to enrich people’s lives and the five concept cars we have on display here have all the essence of what we want to deliver for the future of the company.

“Before Covid we used to say that the industry has a major shake-up probably once every 100 years, since then the situation has changed a lot. We've had supply chain issues and major challenges throughout the world so what I can say is that we are not going to continue the way we have in the past.

“When you look at the industry today it is evolving at a very fast pace when it comes to electrification and we have to be at the front of it.

“There is huge pressure from the Chinese in every market and from that point of view we have to transform ourselves and that’s why we are planning beyond, we’re working hard on the strategy and direction for the future of mobility.

“What you see with our concept cars is to show what we can deliver going forward especially with customers’ expectations changing so fast.”

On the question of pricing on Chinese EVs Uchida said that as technology improves pricing is coming down quickly.

“We’ve talked about it a lot in our Mission 2030 on how to be cost effective. That’s one of our key strategies; how to be more competitive and how we can deliver to our customers.”

Asked about Chinese subsidies of production and export of EVs Uchida wasn’t prepared to say whether it gives them an unfair advantage or if the practice will be addressed by manufacturers to various governments.

“A very strong wave of Chinese brands is coming and the question is how do we tackle this as an EV pioneering company at Nissan?

“We have a plan and are intensely discussing how we change our way of constructing and how we are going to address that at a competitive level.”

There are however emerging markets with a limited EV infrastructure and countries like our own and Australia where vast distances are a reality.

“We have various strategies that we are looking at depending on how advanced the market is and as they adapt so of course so will we.”

For now though expect diesel and petrol still to be part of the local engine offerings.

When it comes to the future of the sports car in the electric age, given that Nissan has an extremely strong heritage with the GTR and Z car, Uchida was very upbeat.

“I love the GTR. We have A to Z in the company. We have sportscars, GTR, Z, e-Power, electric, diesel and petrol all in our stable.

“GTR and Z are a brand while sports cars and motorsport gives you many options so we’re looking at how that will evolve to ensure it still represents our company and its character.”

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