Nissan Motor CEO Carlos Ghosn is not a patient man. In fact, we learned this week just how impatient he can be. This character trait makes for at least one good deal for pickup buyers and perhaps more down the line for buyers of other models.
You see, just at the very moment Nissan Motor CEO Carlos Ghosn announced that "Nissan's performance in the third quarter did not meet our expectations," therefore "We have taken action to reignite our sales momentum and growth," along comes news of a major, major price reduction for the 2013 Nissan Frontier.
Really. Nissan says the new base price of the mid-size Frontier pickup now starts at $20,898, compared to the $22,335 rock-bottom sticker on the rival 2013 Toyota Tacoma. At $20,898 the 2013 base Frontier is $3,580 less than the 2012 model (which was listed for $24,478, but wore a $3,500 factory discount).
The sub-$21,000 price is a good deal for anyone who wants almost all the functionality of a full-size pickup, but not the mass, the girth and the screaming hassles that come with trying to stuff a Ram or a Ford F-Series or a Chevrolet Silverado into a micro-sized parking space. Moreover, Nissan Canada is now touting an "average price drop of $4,300 across all trims and models" of the Frontier.
Unfortunately, as of this writing, Nissan Canada's own web site (Nissan.ca) does not have details and pricing for the 2013 Frontier. You can't yet build and price your own Frontier, but we can tell you that with the reduced pricing, the taxable subtotal for a 2013 Frontier base model should be around $22,000 with a negotiated dealer discount.
The spur to action here is many-sided. Nissan Canada's sales were down nearly 18 per cent in January and Frontier sales were off a staggering 26 per cent. Worldwide, not only were Nissan's sales down nearly four per cent between October and December, but more importantly to Ghosn, operating profit in that period slipped a stunning 47.4 per cent. Nissan, in releasing financials, also noted that operating profit margin for that period was a paltry 2.8 per cent, compared to a barely respectable nine-month operating margin of 5.2 per cent.
I am predicting more discounts and incentives from Nissan globally and locally here in Canada. They'll play havoc with operating margins, but the sales slide needs to stop. NOW. Let's also be fair about the challenges that are forcing Nissan to juice sales.
Europe, where Nissan has traditionally been fairly strong, is an economic basket case and surely can only get worse because of... well, almost everything. Europe's bankers, business people and politicians refuse to recognize that the status quo isn't working and yet they plug holes here and there with short-term measures that cannot succeed in the long-term. And the Germans, in particular, keep pushing austerity on countries that frankly need stimulus right now.
Then there's China, where every car company hopes to find riches in a swelling middle-class population hungry for consumer goods. But as Ghosn notes, all Japanese auto makers are suffering due to political issues that are far beyond their control. Also, Japan's yen remains over-valued, which is a drag on export-related profits, and in the U.S., Nissan is facing seriously renewed competition from Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen, Ford, Chrysler and General Motors – to name eight.
However, Ghosn implied that the discounting is only short-term; he expects new products to drive sales and profits later this year. Indeed, Nissan and its Infiniti luxury brand are in the early stages of something resembling a thorough makeover, top to bottom. The new Altima sedan, Sentra compact and Pathfinder SUV are only the start of what will continue when the Versa Note subcompact and more arrive later this year. Infiniti? At Infiniti the replacement for the G is coming shortly and it's all new, right down to its Q50 name.
"Looking forward, we have important vehicle launches" and the company has made "swift organizational changes to help stimulate our business performance," said Ghosn, ever impatient. Repositioning the Frontier is one of them. And because Nissan has been discounting it and the full-size Titan for quite some time, a formal price reduction makes sense.
Hobby farmers and anyone who hauls stuff from IKEA or to the dump might find the Frontier a better option than a monster pickup. The base engine is a 152-horsepower four-cylinder (4x2 King Cab only) but the workhorse motor is a 4.0-litre V-6 (261 horsepower). It's sold in King and Crew Cab body styles, fuel economy for 2013 is up as much as 12 per cent, says Nissan, and this rig looks rugged enough. Personally, I'd like to see Nissan go back to its roots and again offer a true compact pickup, but without one in the lineup, the Frontier is the next best thing.
The big, overall point Deals of the Week would make is this: shoppers can find clues to new and better offers in all sorts of places, from the sales numbers (when they're down) to the financials (when they're not meeting expectations) to management (when it's impatient).
Of course, Deals of the Week also likes cash discounts and on that front, we found $5,500 factory rebates on both the Honda Pilot and Acura TL with all-wheel drive, along with a $2,000 factory rebate on a budget-priced Dodge Journey.
As usual, Deals of the Week obtained pricing information from www.carcostcanada.com, among other sources. Consult your dealer for all the details.
2013 Nissan Frontier 4x2 King Cab
- MSRP: $20,898
- Freight, dealer prep, air conditioning tax: $1,695
- Dealer discount (estimated): $500
- Taxable subtotal: $22,093
- Total price with 13% HST: $24,965.09
- Note: 2012 MSRP was $24,478, though with a $3,500 factory incentive
2012 Acura TL SH-AWD w/Tech Package
- MSRP: $46,990
- Freight, dealer prep and air conditioning tax: $2,045
- Dealer discount (estimated): $1,800
- Factory discount: $5,500 (Non-stackable Trading Dollars factory-to-dealer rebate (scheduled to expire Jan 31 but likely still available for leftover 2012))
- Taxable subtotal: $41,735
- Total price with 13% HST: $47,160.55
2012 Honda Pilot LX 4WD
- MSRP: $37,920
- Freight, dealer prep, AC tax: $1,740
- Dealer discount (estimated): $1,500
- Factory discount: $5,500 (Non-stackable Trading Dollars factory-to-dealer rebate)
- Taxable subtotal: $32,660
- Total price with 13% HST: $36,905.80
- Note: Honda Canada also has Don't Pay for 90 Days Program; see dealer for details.
2013 Dodge Journey SE Plus FWD
- MSRP: $21,495
- Freight, dealer prep, AC tax: $1,595
- Dealer discount (estimated): $600
- Factory discount: $2,000 (Consumer Cash Discount factory-to-dealer rebate)
- Taxable subtotal: $20,490
- Total price with 13% HST: $23,153.70
- Available with 3.99% financing for up to 60 months
Pricing information source: www.carcostcanada.com. Calculations based on Ontario customers. Please note that while the information above is accurate at the time of publication, incentives are given at the discretion of individual dealers, and may be changed or discontinued at any time. Dealer discounts are negotiated with the customer on a case-by-case basis.