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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Calculation error sees Nissan NP200 bow-out as sales runner-up

Final NP200 left the Rosslyn Plant on 31 March after an almost 16 year production run.

A revision of the monthly National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) sales figures for March resulted in the Nissan NP200 capping off its almost 16-year production run as the second best-selling vehicle for the month behind the Toyota Hilux.

Wrong numbers

In a statement on Wednesday, Naamsa said a calculation error with the figures saw the brand mismatching the number of products it had sold, resulting in the final sales for the vehicles sold in March being reported wrongfully.

ALSO READ: End has arrived: Nissan NP200 no more by March 2024

As such, the numbers were off by two, meaning total sales of 44 235 units and 14 626 in the case of light commercial vehicles.

Nissan NP200 says goodbye as March's second best-selling vehicle
NP200 has a claimed payload of 800 kg. Image: Nissan

In adjusted form, new passenger vehicle sales for March amounted to 26 819, while no changes were required for heavy and medium-duty commercial vehicles, as well as exports.

Ending on a high

With the corrections applied, the NP200, whose production run came to an end on 31 March, officially ranked second behind the Hilux with sales of 2 679 units.

Nissan ends production of the NP200
Leisure focused SE variants arrived in 2009 with a powerful 16-valve petrol engine as well as a turbodiesel. Image: Nissan

Up until now, the tallied numbers showed its sibling, the Navara, as being the second-best seller with sales of 2 277 units, its highest in recent memory, and well ahead of both the Isuzu D-Max and Ford Ranger.

In the mentioned statement, though, Naamsa said the calculated error caused the NP200’s figures to be mistakenly applied to those of the Navara.

Nissan NP200 says goodbye as March's second best-selling vehicle
Interior didn’t much, apart from specifications depending on trim level. Image: Nissan

“It is significantly important to issue this erratum not only to correct the numbers and our public records, but also to allow Nissan to celebrate the NP200 sales milestone with the South African public and the entire industry since the production of this model has been discontinued in South Africa,”  Naamsa said.

End of an era

Its departure as South Africa’s only half-ton bakkie announced last year, a replacement had been in the planning stages, but ultimately failed to materialise as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Nissan ends production of the NP200
Loaded debuted in 2014 as the first special edition based on the 1.6-litre, eight-valve original. Image: Nissan

In a statement, Nissan South Africa said the Federation had been earmarked as the sourcing hub for the first generation Renault/Dacia Logan-derived NP200’s replacement, which came to nothing following Renault’s sale of its factories and operations in Russia for a reported $1.

As a result, it was left with no choice but to prolong the NP200’s lifecycle at its Rosslyn plant outside Pretoria, while simultaneously continuing with assembly of the Navara for the South African and sub-Saharan African markets.

Rosslyn’s challenge

In the same announcement, Nissan said, “until our future plans are confirmed, the business will be operating at reduced production volumes and needs to act responsibly to maintain its long-term competitiveness and be ready to secure future opportunities.

Nissan ends production of the NP200
Debuting in 2015 as the Loaded’s replacement, the Stealth also used the eight-valve 1.6 as a base, but with a number of added extras. Image: Nissan

“Nissan South Africa has now entered into a formal consultation phase to restructure the business, which could result in a reduction in the number of employees across the company”.

Nissan ends production of the NP200
The final special edition NP200, the Ice, debuted in 2016 powered by the 1.6 16v petrol or the 1.5 dCi turbodiesel. Image: Nissan

According to a report days later by Moneyweb, the employee reduction involved around 25% of Rosslyn’s workforce, or more specifically, 400 of the 1 600 staff employed.

Replacement planned but not soon

A replacement for the NP200 is, however, still expected, but only in 2027 when Renault commences production of the Niagara in place of the aged first generation Duster underpinned Oroch.

Already confirmed as happening, the unnamed half-ton NP200 successor will be positioned below the next generation Navara due next year and take favour above the Oroch, whose South African arrival at the end of 2023 failed to materialise for reported economic reasons.

Nissan NP200 says goodbye as March's second best-selling vehicle
Niagara Concept will enter production in 2027 as the reported replacement for the Oroch and in the NP200 in badge engineered form. Image: Renault

“Due to unfavourable economic market factors, in particular the degradation of the exchange rate, the Oroch project is not feasible at this stage,” Renault told The Citizen in November as part of its product plans for 2024.

While widely speculated that the Oroch would have provided the base for the NP200, its indefinite delay and apparent discontinuing within the next 24 months all but suggest that a longer wait will be required before the Niagara’s arrival.

“We will enrich our line by using Renault’s expertise in half-ton pickup trucks, recently revealed under the name Niagara,” motor1.com Brazil quoted Nissan CEO, Makoto Uchida, as saying in December.

Renault provides preview of 2024 models
“Prototype” Oroch made its first public showing at the Nampo Agricultural Expo in Bothaville in April last year.

“Similarly, Nissan will provide our proven capabilities in our 1-ton pickup truck, the Nissan Frontier, to help Renault increase its production presence in Argentina”.

As per Uchinda’s comments, production of the Niagara will take place at the Santa Isabel Plant in Argentina, where the Navara is manufactured under the Frontier name, alongside its now South American-market exclusive twin, the Renault Alaskan.

Rosslyn will have two

In its announcement of the NP200’s withdrawal, Nissan South Africa stated, “securing a second model for production in South Africa is a priority and a study into an alternative vehicle is already progressing”.

For the time being, the Navara will prevail as the sole product made at Rosslyn, however, don’t be surprised if details about the NP200’ successor emerge before the Niagara goes into eventual production.

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