In a Q&A with Jonathan Adashek, Vice President Global Communications and Chief Communications Officer, Nissan Motor Corporation, Ltd, talks about the auto giant’s drive towards a sustainable future, the outlook of autonomous cars in the Gulf, and lots more.
How much does Nissan focus on a sustainable future in the ME region?
At Nissan, innovation is everything and the Nissan Intelligent Mobility strategy combines ingenuity and innovation around three key advancements: autonomous drive, electrification, and connected car technologies.
Nissan is at the forefront of development of these technologies and the market leader in sales of electric vehicles with the Nissan LEAF.
We launched the much-anticipated second-generation Nissan LEAF in September this year to continue that global leadership with greater range, advanced technologies and dynamic design.
The new Nissan LEAF is more than an electric car. It’s the embodiment of how electrification, autonomous driving and connectivity can come together in a car that is simply amazing.
In the Middle East, we recently announced that Nissan is the official automotive partner for Expo 2020.
We will provide the Expo 2020 with a fleet of cars, including electric vehicles featuring Nissan Intelligent Mobility technologies.
The partnership is aimed at helping accelerate the electrification of mobility in the region.
Nissan is testing robot taxis and aims to begin service in the early 2020s. Do you have any plans to introduce them in the Middle East?
Robot taxis are an emerging market segment of the future, which we are working on. Through a dedicated mobile app, users will be able to select destinations and summon vehicles, pay the fare, choose recommended local destinations and sightseeing routes depending on their objectives.
We also plan to support multiple languages and a remote monitoring system to ensure passenger safety.
Once the test phase has been successfully rolled out, we can consider expanding to other markets based on demand and local regulations.
How is Nissan adopting technologies that promote enhanced automotive and road safety measures in the ME region?
The introduction of Nissan Safety Shield is a prime example of our efforts to improve road safety measures in the Middle East. The technologies leverage a comprehensive approach, which guides the engineering and development of every vehicle we make.
Our commitment to innovation and intelligent safety will shine in 2018 when eight models – roughly 1,000,000 Nissans in total – will include standard Automatic Emergency Braking.
The feature uses radar sensors to monitor a vehicle’s proximity to the vehicle ahead, giving the driver audible and visual display warnings to help the driver reduce the vehicle’s speed if a potential frontal collision is detected.
What’s the future of connected and autonomous cars in the Gulf with an abundance of cheap gasoline?
The future of connected and autonomous cars in the UAE is bright. Strong government backing can be credited with propelling the trend forward, as UAE Vision 2021 and Dubai Plan 2021 aim to make Dubai a smart, integrated, and connected city.
One that is fully sustainable with its resources, and where environmental components are clean, healthy and sustainable.
A mandate was announced recently whereby 10% of federal investment in new vehicles will be in electric and hybrid cars by 2020.
Infrastructure such as solar charging stations and dedicated parking spots in addition to incentives from the transport authorities, will all play a role in helping people to see the benefits of electric cars, which are also great to drive.
What were your major expectations for 2017 and how much of those expectations came true this year?
From a financial perspective, 2017 has proven to be in line with our expectations, particularly with regards to our global operating profits from the first half of our financial year, which totalled 322.6 billion yen, excluding settlement and vehicle inspection costs.
Throughout the six months prior to September 30, 2017, our global unit sales increased by 4.6% compared with the previous year, rising to 2.73 million units.
How have digital and social media changed the marketing of automobiles in the region?
Despite technological advances, certain old truths remain unchanged: Content is king, and the medium will follow the target audience.
In this regard, social platforms are quickly adjusting and becoming more flexible to increase the level of engagement and interaction.
As consumers have become savvier, they rely less on face-to-face interactions with in-store dealers – showroom walk-ins are decreasing and online conversions increasing.
Our digital experiences must go beyond regular sales pitches, and we need to ensure long-term, omnichannel relationships with users, rather than one-way interactions.
This also highlights the need to be flexible and deploy multiple concepts across channels, all while responding to real-time feedback from users.
Earlier this year, we implemented a successful and well-received campaign on Facebook that allowed users to determine the car colour that matches their personality.
Using bots and digital tools, we were able to reach audiences and potential customers in a way that complimented existing services.
One of the most notable digital developments is the emergence of the automotive e-commerce vertical, and we are seeing signs of the traditional dealership model being disrupted.
With increasing expectations of integrated omnichannel approaches, e-commerce is an important element that allows manufacturers and vendors to further bridge the gap between online and offline experiences.