Crossover Takeover: Nissan's Compact Cars Leave Europe Indefinitely

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Nissan is ending sales of its last two compact cars in Europe and Russia, citing a the growing demand for crossover vehicles as the reason. The automaker stopped producing the Pulsar hatchback for Europe in June and says it will end production of the Almera sedan in Russia later this year. Both models are the sister car to our own Nissan Sentra.

The Pulsar was launched in 2014 to give Nissan a fighter for the competitive compact-featherweight category and fill a gap left in the brand’s European range in the wake of the discontinued N16 Almera. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been the sales success Nissan hoped for. The Pulsar never quite managed to match the N16’s volume. Nissan’s decision to abandon it leaves the Leaf EV as the only non-utility compact sold by the manufacturer in the region.

According to Automotive News, Nissan predicted European annual sales of 64,000 for the Pulsar roughly the same as the old Almera. However, JATO Dynamics claims the brand only managed 25,221 deliveries in 2017. This year was pointing toward even lower figures long before production stopped.

Nissan’s official reasoning for axing the models came down to “a rapidly increasing switch by European customers from traditional vehicle segments to crossovers,” according to a company spokesman. “The story in Russia is similar,” apparently.

From Automotive News Europe:

The Almera sedan is a Russia-only model launched in 2013 and was for a while was Nissan’s best-selling model in the country, reaching 46,225 sales in 2014. This year however the model dropped out of the top-25 best-selling list, compiled by the Association of European Businesses (AEB) in Russia.

The X-trail midsize SUV was Nissan’s best-selling car in Russia through August, with 14,103 sales, followed by the smaller Qashqai SUV. The loss of the Almera will see Nissan’s Russian line-up switch to SUVs, except for the imported GT-R sports car. Russia’s car market is now more than 40 percent SUVs, according to Renault Group.

The Datsun brand, which continues selling low-cost automobiles is Russia, is also struggling with its smaller vehicles. Sales of the on-Do small sedan and mi-Do hatchback (both of which use the Lada Kalina platform) fell by 22 percent in the first eight months of 2018.

The Almera will continue to be built by the Renault-owned AvtoVAZ at a factory in Togliatti, Samara region, alongside various Renaults and Ladas, until its demise. Nissan’s Pulsar was manufactured at a plant in Barcelona, Spain through June.

[Image: Nissan]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Thepolice1988 Thepolice1988 on Sep 13, 2018

    I always thought that the Nissan Pulsar was completely pointless. Never saw too many of them, either. This is the list of cars it competed with: - VW Golf: obviously, and all it’s derivatives: Audi A3 (luxury), Seat Leon (fast in FR trim), Skoda Octavia (big and cheap), - Opel/Vauxhall Astra (cheap, surprisingly comfy), - Ford Focus (also cheap, surprisingly sporty), - several French cars: Renault Megané, Peugeot..., Citroen... (cheap, weird) - and Italian (Fiat...) compact cars (cheap, can be had in nice colors), - Hyundai i30 and Kia Ceed (everlasting), - Toyota Corolla/Auris and Prius (boring but indestructible), - Honda Civic (weird looking), - Mazda 3 (very good but noisy), - Mercedes A-Class (expensive), - BMW 1-Series (rear-wheel drive) - etc., etc. The Nissan Pulsar didn’t stand out in any way at all, other than being a Nissan. So, good riddance, I guess.

  • WallMeerkat WallMeerkat on Sep 13, 2018

    Actually, Nissan did this about 15 years ago in Europe. It was as shocking then as the recent Ford US car news is now. They axed the Almera compact hatch and Primera midsize sedan/hatch. They then concentracted on the crossover SUVs Qashqai (Rogue sport) and Juke, to great success admittedly. It was only in 2014 when they decided to get back into the competitive compact market, but the Pulsar was a forgettable product, and the Micra had grown in size to cater for most compact buyers, while also looking sharper and more competitive. The compact sector in Europe is safe, Focus is still selling well, Toyota are introducing a new Corolla, Skoda are rejigging their Rapid into a Golf shaped car. Just the Pulsar didn't set pulses racing, or something like that what motoring journalists might write.

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