There were some things at Gord Scott Nissan’s new premises on Thursday that have been seen at the grand openings of countless dealership: a bright ribbon, giant scissors and local dignitaries.
But there was also something that had never been seen in a Canadian dealership: a Nissan Cube.
The boxy, five-passenger car, which was unveiled at the Toronto Auto Show earlier this year, had not previously found its way into a domestic showroom, confirmed Jeff Parent, vice-president of sales and marketing for Nissan Canada Inc.
He later added that the vehicle was trucked into Red Deer for Gord Scott Nissan’s grand opening and was to be whisked away after. The special attention, said Parent, reflected dealership owner Gord Scott’s status with Nissan Canada.
“He’s among the most well-regarded dealers we have in the country,” said Parent, noting that Scott sits on the company’s dealer council.
Sharing the local spotlight with the Cube was Nissan’s sleek new 370Z. Both vehicles are being introduced to the Canadian market this spring.
The Cube, said Parent, is valuable to his company simply because it draws people into showrooms.
“It has a great curiosity value.”
Open since last fall, the 31,000-square foot Gord Scott Nissan is the largest Nissan dealership in Canada. Scott said that size reflects the fact that Nissan is rolling out commercial lines of vehicles in North America, including trucks as large as 2 1/2 tons.
Those larger vehicles require more space for displaying and servicing.
“We’re actually the first dealership in Canada that’s been certified for Nissan commercial vehicles,” said Scott.
Alberta already accounts for about 80 per cent of Nissan’s truck sales in Canada, said Parent. It’s also expected to lead the country when it comes to sales of Nissan’s new commercial products.
Gord Scott Nissan is well-positioned to capitalize on that demand, he said. But its size will also allow it to take advantage of the growing popularity of Nissan products generally.
“We’re selling twice what we were in 2002. A lot of the dealers that started early are really kind of getting space-constrained.”
Despite Nissan’s aggressive move into big vehicles, the company is also becoming a world leader in the development of electric cars, said Parent.
“We’ll be in the market with these cars in 2010,” he said, adding that electric-only vehicles should be available to Canadians by 2011.
Initially, their range will be limited, he acknowledged. But this could increase to 100 to 200 km on a single charge as battery technology improves.
“This is going to be a real alternative for people 15 years from now, or 10 years from now.”
Meanwhile, said Parent, Nissan continues to renew its conventional vehicles. He thinks it’s well-positioned to grow its North American market share as the economy recovers.
Parent added that auto sales in Canada have not been adversely affected like they have south of the border.
“There is clearly a different market in the U.S. than there is in Canada,” he said, pointing out that consumer debt is lower here, the real estate market is better and Canadians have better access to credit.
Gord Scott Nissan has operated in Red Deer since 1985.