Nissan's FY11 GT-R Program Progress Report
Posted 11 June 2012 - 06:42 AM
Eighteen months ago, Nissan was provided with a detailed list of the major concerns of GT-R owners and prospective owners in the form of an Open Letter published on NAGTROC, the website of the North American GT-R Owners Club. With Nissan’s first Fiscal Year following the Open Letter having passed, it is time to evaluate and grade Nissan’s progress in addressing the concerns presented.
The grading system utilized is as follows:
A: Outstanding - An outstanding score indicates that not only was the root issue addressed, but community expectations were exceeded.
B: Satisfactory - A satisfactory score indicates that the community’s concern was addressed and core requirements were met such that the community is content.
C: Progressing - Recognizing an effort being made and positive results being seen, even if the community’s requirements have not been addressed, nets a Progressing evaluation.
D: Needs Improvement - If an area needs improvement, an effort is being made in some shape/form/fashion, but that effort is either not addressing the community’s concerns or the community is grossly unsatisfied with the efforts taken so far given the nature of the underlying issue.
F: Incomplete - No effort is being taken or the community is unsatisfied that the issue is even being acknowledged as important.
What follows is a detailed assessment of Nissan’s performance in addressing the concerns and needs of the North American GT-R community.
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Posted 11 June 2012 - 06:43 AM
In late 2010 I wrote an Open Letter to Nissan in which I detailed a number of significant issues that the GT-R community faced. In that Open Letter I also recommended changes to the North American GT-R program. Those changes covered areas ranging from marketing to product planning and were all oriented at providing Nissan with low cost or potentially revenue generating solutions to issues that GT-R owners faced. It was my belief then, as it is now, that managing the ownership experience is key to the success of the GT-R in North America. Following the end of Nissan’s first complete fiscal year following the Open Letter, this is a good time to review the Letter and evaluate Nissan’s progress in responding to their customers’ needs.
Some may feel that the GT-R ownership experience is already excellent and that it’s not the limiting factor of GT-R sales in the US. They may point to recent surveys, including post purchase surveys, as evidence of this. Or, they may point to the feats of the car itself. Unfortunately, while the ownership experience is improving, both owners and prospective owners continue to report facing major questions and challenges.
It’s been argued in the past that demand for the GT-R will always be limited due to its price. As the argument goes, there will always be relatively few sales of such a high end car. Others have argued that the GT-R isn’t an important car to Nissan. They say that it occupies a niche market and that GT-R sales are infinitesimally small relative to the yearly global sales of Nissan. Neither of these arguments are legitimate. Nissan has chosen to enter the GT-R's market and has allocated resources to that end. While the GT-R is for sale, Nissan must address the needs and challenges of its customers. From a broader perspective, the focus in striving for excellence is a way of life for any self respecting, valuable company. It does not vary by product. It is not related to market size. It is not limited to certain customers.
Everything that Nissan does should be focused on excellence. There should not be a debate as to the value of improving the ownership experience for the GT-R or any Nissan product for that matter. The GT-R should be at the forefront of Nissan’s high quality brand image. It’s a very challenging mark - not only in constructing the vehicle itself, but in making sales, satisfying customers, and making a name for itself in such a challenging market segment. But if Nissan can find success in the GT-R market, the lessons learned - from customer satisfaction to dealer management to new technologies- can be leveraged across its entire product range. In that way, a quality ownership experience can, and should, extend to all Nissan products.
From a different angle, as long as Nissan is building and selling the GT-R, with resources allocated- from man hours to financial backing- all dedicated to supporting the positioning and continued sale of the GT-R, the question of how to allocate those resources remains. In short, while excellence should be the ultimate driving motivation, there exist current, real resources that need to be allocated and the question remains: How should these resources be allocated? This is an important question. The needs of GT-R owners and prospective owners must be addressed for the GT-R to find success in North America.
This evaluation formally recaps the prior issues presented to Nissan as well as the recommendations given. It recognizes Nissan’s efforts as well as Nissan’s shortcomings and in turn, how the community has responded.
The focus of this evaluation is not to make any claims against Nissan, it’s to reflect community and owner sentiment. It is important that there is a dialogue between the North American GT-R community and Nissan. It is also important that there is transparency on the community’s expectations of Nissan and that the management of the GT-R program and the management of NAGTROC understand the GT-R market. Should either the GT-R product managers or myself not understand the market, or should either be unwilling to accommodate the needs of GT-R owners, the GT-R market will suffer. This materializes in unsatisfied customers, fewer product sales, lost income, and ultimately, lost jobs - some within Nissan itself.
It is with this in mind that I review the prior issues brought to Nissan’s attention, evaluate Nissan’s response, and formalize the community’s forward looking expectations.
Posted 11 June 2012 - 06:43 AM
As with any car, it’s important to evaluate a GT-R prior to purchasing it. In the case of the GT-R, this is particularly important due to (1) The way the car is driven (owners that track their GT-Rs are putting their lives at stake) (2) The car is not cost effective to maintain with Nissan, especially in instances of failures, and (3) Otherwise good condition GT-Rs may not have warranties due to past work or modification. The first issue brought forward in my Open Letter recognized these points and asked Nissan to use the technology that the GT-R already has, and dealers have already been trained on, to address the situation.
At a minimum, the community needed to see a GT-R assessment program. At maximum, the proposal was for a full certification program whereby owners could be fully confident in the quality of the pre-owned GT-Rs they were buying. The recommended program was designed to consolidate the pre-owned GT-R market, reduce the risk in buying preowned GT-Rs, and improve business opportunities for Nissan’s dealer network.
Unfortunately, we haven’t seen any such program.
Let’s recap what has happened in the interim. On the high end, GT-R prices are slowly coming down. On the low end however, prices have been stable. I would attribute this to (1) A continuing increase in the new-market MSRP of the GTR (2) Limited supply (3) An increase in attraction to the GT-R as more in the public are exposed to the car and as the GT-R enthusiast community grows.
While one might argue these are positive things, they do not indicate that the concern of pre-owned buyers isn’t real, nor do they provide any basis of an argument against a GT-R assessment program. There has been a significant level of uncertainty in the buying community as well as some negative experiences.
"I GOT A CHECK ENGINE LIGHT ON MY CAR . TOKE THE CAR TO THE DEALER AND THEY CANT EVEN FIGURE IT OUT THATS CRAZY THEY SAY I MIGHT NEED A ECM . CAN SOME ONE HELP...I never check the gas carp i just went right to the dealer . now there doing a diagnosis . they say its da computer . there not try to give me a warranty . i bought the car used it only has 8200 miles. they say the problem t.hey are trying to say the car was flashed at 48 miles . this is bull" ->
"I'm going to buy a 2010 GTR tomorrow with only 1600 miles. My biggest concern is that to make sure the previous owner never launch the car...I'm wondering is driving with the VDC off will it affect anything regarding transmission warrenty etc.?" ->
"Hello, as the title suggests, I'm looking at getting a used 09-10 GT-R. This car would be a daily driver, NEVER tracked, and NEVER "launched". I've never owned a car as technologically advanced as one of these so I've got some questions...How do I tell if the warranty has been voided b/c of launch mode used? I thought I read that launch mode doesn't void warranties?" ->
"Anyone ever had (a Pre Purchase Inspection) on their GTR? I have been looking at a few cars out of state, and I feel like it's the safest bet as far as an inspection. I have been looking at 09's but am a bit leary spending so much money on a car that has no warranty. Do they inspect the exterior condition etc as well?" ->
These concerns and incidents will become increasingly common going forward. The factors that have helped to maintain the GT-R’s pricing in the secondary market can not persist forever. Over time, prices will slowly slide lower even on the low end. As that happens, issues such as those quoted above will become more common, and the challenges of GT-R buyers in the pre-owned market will begin to mount. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.
Nissan’s efforts need improvement. It is not acceptable that pre-owned GT-R buyers, Nissan customers, are being held responsible for the actions of previous GT-R owners. That Nissan’s dealers are, in some cases, providing limited Flickr data is helping and prevents Nissan from getting an F/incomplete. But at the same time, there’s only so much data they will share, and it doesn’t come close to addressing the heart of the issue for the average buyer.
It’s unacceptable that this concern continues, and it’s unacceptable that some are finding themselves victims of situations that Nissan could have prevented. Especially since the general training and core technologies needed to address this issue not only exist, but are already integrated into the GT-R and deployed within the GT-R’s dealer network.
Given the sheer importance of this, and the fact that Nissan has earned itself a D in this area, this topic will be revisited in the next Open Letter to Nissan.
Posted 11 June 2012 - 06:43 AM
Nissan’s stance on the GT-R’s warranty has long been a major cause of concern for both owners and prospective owners. It’s even gone so far as to become a topic among the general automotive media. At the root of it is the issue is that Nissan built a car with specific features that (1) are offered on other cars for use without penalty but if used on the GTR void the GTR’s warranty (2) were advertised by the media (with no counter statement from Nissan) to improve the performance of the car but did in fact, void its warranty and (3) summarily and perhaps unfairly voided the warranty on the car under situations that a significant percent of the owner base purchased the car to experience. This has not only damaged the GT-R’s name, but it has also created an unnecessary, negative climate for GT-R owners.
Nissan has not addressed this situation in the way that the community would most value. Nissan has not announced a retroactive revised warranty policy. Nissan has not told its customers that modification related claims will only be denied if the modification in question resulted in the need for the underlying claim. Nissan has not changed its policy on seeing GT-Rs on track and has not advised its customers that tracking their GT-Rs in non-competitive events is OK. Nissan has not clarified its warranty tie-in provisions by making it clear that while aftermarket products may be warranty voiding if they are the causes of failures, such products will not automatically lead to a denial of all future warranty claims without cause.
Nissan has however, made significant progress in handling warranty claims. Over the last year the GT-R community has seen the following common issues: steering wheel lock failures, gauge cluster backlight failures, and most significantly, transmission subcomponent failures. In most instances Nissan has done the right thing and warrantied fixes for affected GT-Rs- even for those that are modified.
Yet in still, due to Nissan’s reluctance to address this definitively, fears persist. Sometimes Nissan continues to decline claims. Sometimes it takes multiple attempts to have claims covered under warranty. All told, the massive damage done to the GT-R’s brand due to Nissan’s warranty policies in 2008 and 2009 has resulted in real concerns that justifiably continue to this day:
"I currently own a C63 AMG and I'm really leaning towards a GT-R next, only thing that's holding me back is all the transmission/warranty horror stories I've been hearing about." ->
"The GR6 remains the Achilles heel of what is otherwise a great car. I sold my lightly modded 2009 with 18K miles to avoid this issue." ->
(In response to Nissan reversing its decision on denying a warranty claim due to modifications despite the claim relating to a known issue for which a TSB was issued-) "This is really a major decision that literally changes everything for me. As the owner of a very early 2009, I really feared that any transmission issue would have been very costly for me as I have modded my car and use an aftermarket transmission fluid. I was considering selling my car and returning to a Porsche or BMW." ->
Given Nissan’s silent approach to this issue, it will take more time to tell how things are panning out. In the meantime, many GT-R owners are and will be concerned and there really isn’t a good answer for them on whether or not it’s OK to track their cars, or whether or not every last component on their car loses its warranty if the brake pads are changed. It’s one of those cases where you can’t rest easy if the law is on the books. The fact that the police may or may not enforce it becomes irrelevant - fear will persist.
Given that things have definitely progressed, even if the uncertainty definitely persists, Nissan has earned itself a C. There has been notable progress but the core issue has not been fully addressed for GT-R owners and prospective owners.
Posted 11 June 2012 - 06:43 AM
One of the issues that GT-R owners have had since launch has been that very few know the status of their car or where their car is in the delivery process.To build interest and improve customer satisfaction, Nissan needs to provide a way for new owners to track their GT-R’s status from pre-order delivery to help future launches go well. Post delivery, these owners should have an online mechanism they can use to communicate with Nissan and their dealer, keep vehicle logs, and so on. Such a system, starting with a vehicle tracking site, would be significantly valuable to new GT-R customers. In expanded form, it becomes a great asset not only for new GT-R owners but also all current GT-R owners.
An order status site is at a minimum important to improving the GT-R ordering and launch experience. To be sure, the efforts that Nissan puts into improving customers initial GT-R ownership experiences is valued as these efforts improve customers first impressions of the brand and makes their ownership feel more real. In turn, they’ll be less likely to change their minds on purchasing and more likely to share their positive experiences with others and look forward to the delivery of their cars.
Coming back to the recommendation, at a minimum, Nissan needed to setup online GT-R tracking access for new owners. Unfortunately, nothing has happened.
In the words of GT-R owners and prospective owners:
"So, I decided on a blue 2013 and found a dealer that has one coming in the next month or so, so I gave them a deposit. Can anyone track it for me? I recently got a 2012 Jeep SRT8 and I could track it through the entire build process to the day it got to the dealership. Is there any way for me to do it for the GT-R? Thanks in advance and I'm so stoked..." ->
"So it looks like vin can be expected in the month prior to delivery...May seem silly, but just getting that number would somehow make the whole thing more real for me." ->
"I just got my VIN and a delivery date of 2/12.... Is there a way to track these cars? I know when I bought a Mini Cooper S, you could track it to the port, the ship across the atlantic, etc..." ->
"My car has a ETA for the week ending in 2/11. It had a build date of 12/10 and has been in transit since early January. My dealer indicated that the car is in the port and he should see it any day now. The Motor Trend site indicated that deliveries would take place on or near Feb 3. I suspect we will see the deliveries about the time Nissan USA updates the GTR to show the 2012 model. That's what I keep checking..." ->
"Wonder how many people have vin # and can share their Order Numbers. My Nissan dealer is saying that NO GT-R has been built yet or will be shipped February at all.... /// Nuggett, Between your dealer telling you no GTR has been made and wanting a 10K depsoit, you might want to find another dealer. I've had my VIN for about 2 weeks now. Here is the info I got with the VIN..." ->
I concede that it requires significant planning, but it’s a massive value-added investment. It’s a fundamental infrastructure that Nissan can create and leverage for future products such as the Leaf or even rebrand for Infiniti. While there’s been no progress on this front, it’s still very important going forward and something that Nissan should implement, in some capacity.
Such a portal, with electronic communication, improves the efficiency of dealerships and improves the quality of communication between customers and Nissan. It also allows Nissan to get closer to customers. For example, customers will be more likely to fill out the surveys that Nissan values if they are presented online as opposed to physical form that must be mailed in. Additionally, Nissan’s communications become formalized, so official communication is not going to be caught as spam or confused with phishing attacks, as some in the community faced when they received 2013 GT-R Experience invitations:
"Did anybody else receive this (2013 GT-R Experience) e-mail ? I went to register but they want my DL#, DOB, Address, Ht/Wt, ect. The only thing they didn't ask for was my social security # and whether I prefer blondes or brunettes. I did a Jaguar experience there last year and they didn't require any of this info. They just asked that you have a valid DL. I'm leery about giving out all of that info. It does sounds badass though !!" ->
"Is this a scam? The confirmation I received says its from Nissan USA but the email address is email@example.com. Any feedback on this? I hope I didn't get scammed into giving up my information for some shady marketing company." ->
"Sh!t I am usually SO careful about scams and got too excited about this one. I never even realized the URL I went to had nothing to do with Nissan... It points to des07.com. Crap! We even entered our drivers license number. I feel so stupid" ->
Whether it’s a first date or a business interview, the right initial setting can be very important. It’s never good for a customer to feel stupid or dirty. The thing is, GT-R owners are hungry. They’re willing to meet Nissan on this. Come up with a quality, well thought out system that works well and provides value added features and GT-R owners will give it a chance. It doesn’t have to be complex, just let it do the basics and let it work well. They’ll be happy and will give it a go. Especially if convenience, access to Nissan and access to events are on the other side.
Again, the benefits to Nissan here are many. Nissan will be able to interact with customers much more, as the cost of communication drops and it becomes possible to have a longer term dialogue with customers. Even concepts such as the GT-R hotline can change. Yes, the phone number will remain important but sometimes GT-R owners may want to just ask a quick question. It becomes more convenient for both sides if that can be in electronic form. Offering something like this benefits everyone.
Nissan hasn’t performed in this area. Dealers provide internal information but little more. Some customers aren’t given accurate information. As a result, Nissan’s efforts in this area need improvement and Nissan has earned a D. Although this issue should not be weighted as heavily as some of the other issues that customers have, it deserves attention. As Nissan drives forward to true excellence, pre and post ownership care can and should be improved.
Posted 11 June 2012 - 06:44 AM
Nissan GT-R. People hear that name and envision a platform that’s capable of anything. If you line up a GT-R with a Veyron at a drag strip, people will want the GT-R to win. And many really believe it might. If the GT-R were a movie it would be Rocky. It’s the people’s champion. That’s why people see it on the street and pump their fists in the air. That’s raw emotion that a company cannot purchase. The GT-R is a sensible answer to a world of exotics that don’t make sense. It’s beyond Porsche. It’s the people’s rival to Ferraris and Lamborghinis. It’s not even Nissan’s car. It’s the people’s. That’s the people’s perception.
It’s also the owner’s perception. When they buy one, they want to build it. They want to experience it. They want to live the legend. That’s why, while enthusiasts love to modify cars, they really love to modify the GT-R. Nissan should not take this for granted. A passion for product is not something a company can buy. No amount of advertising will bring that.
One of the problems for Nissan is that this passion has yet to be properly monetized. The thing is, it’s easy to do. Owner’s don’t approach their GT-Rs with their wallets closed.
Monetizing the GT-R’s legendary appeal does not require marking up prices without thought. It’s simply a matter of offering fair options. It’s what customers want and what Nissan is in business to provide. Even Mizuno said that it makes sense: Last year he stated that the GT-R is a lover that should grow with its owner. But in the US that’s not happening. There’s a point in the crossroads where both sides can truly be happy. But Nissan isn’t going there. As a result, when owners get there, they have to pick a path and walk elsewhere.
The recommendations behind this issue addressed that. It was acknowledged that Nissan may have concerns but outlined how they could be addressed. It was even explained that NAGTROC would do its part to ensure quality in the community. So what has Nissan done?
Nothing. There are no post purchase products available. Of the millions of dollars that are being exchanged in the aftermarket yearly on this car, Nissan is getting none of it. Making matters worse, Nissan is raising the price of upgrading on owners and taking an adversarial stance on upgrades - the very thing that has made the GT-R legendary. And Nissan’s dealer network is following suite. Owners everywhere are afraid to modify or track their cars, in fear that Nissan will punish them. Others have resigned to taking risks and doing business with aftermarket specialty shops instead of Nissan. To say this doesn’t make sense is an understatement. Even if Mizuno and company do not want to see their work modified, they must acknowledge that it will happen and do the right thing - offer in house alternatives.
Even though Nissan has not met the community on this, I have- and will continue to- use my status as the leader of this community to personally ensure a mature GT-R aftermarket. As I promised a year and a half ago:
...On our end, NAGTROC will be implementing new policies this year to help support quality within the GT-R aftermarket...
So what has happened? First, I’ve imposed quality requirements on vendors and have removed vendors from the community who have failed to meet that standard. Second, I’ve instituted a new policy where vendors will not be able to create replicas of each other’s products and offer them for sale on NAGTROC. And in line with this policy, I have removed vendors who were found in violation. Third, I’ve created a section on the site to promote transparency in vendor dealings and have personally dedicated my time toward resolving member/vendor disputes where they occur.
Given the critical role of NAGTROC in the GT-R industry, this has had a significant effect on not only the quality of aftermarket products that GT-R owners are coming across, but also on customer satisfaction within the community. If one looks at the benefits I promised:
• Improved ownership experience due to better understanding and appreciation for the vehicles they own (at amateur levels)
• Increased satisfaction and pride toward the Nissan and GT-R brands
• Improved ownership experience due to the opportunities to meet other GT-R owners in Nissan organized events
• Improved satisfaction with the GT-R operation experience for GT-R Premier members
• Can guide customer experience further: as customers understand the GT-R more, they can understand more of the value of programs offered
• Advertising & significantly improved brand image as GT-Rs compete successfully
• Further opportunity to interact with customers and gain valuable feedback from real world GT-R operation, as intended.
• Happier customer base
• Added business and service opportunities
• Improved customer satisfaction
I would submit that on our own, the community has been able to realize many of these benefits. Some recent comments from GT-R owners and companies on NAGTROC:
"I know many on here have already had their favorable experiences, but just wanted to say a personal thanks. It's tough finding solid ran tuner businesses in the aftermarket auto industry, and I'm glad we have so many great vendors on this board." ->
"I've been a member of several other automotive forums and NAGTROC has consistently been the best run, best policed, and has the best membership of any (except maybe the very small site we have for our local Z-club... but then you are talking a site of dozens rather than thousands)." ->
"NAGTROC is a great community, from a management and member/user standpoint. We enjoy being here, and I can agree with every point in mcducks post." ->
"Best forum I've been on or am on. Love the different personalities and the level of expertise and honesty here." ->
"On a 100% serious note. Unlike any forum of any type of car I've ever owned (Porsches, Vipers, Vettes, BMW's, Ferrari). This forum, by FAR is the classiest of all... I literally sold my last 3 Z06's because the class of people at vette meets, it made me sick. Anyhow- I digress. You guys are great." ->
"One of the reasons (very small reason) I stopped lurking m3 post trying to learn about the m3 ( GTR and m3 were my only choice) was the douchbaggery, ect. That was almost a year ago." ->
I’ve done this to position NAGTROC to work with Nissan. Unfortunately it has carried a real cost. And because Nissan hasn’t done its part to meet the community on this, the opportunity to sell larger numbers of GT-Rs has not been realized, and the community as a whole isn’t realizing its potential in terms of growth and opportunity. I don’t say this as an enthusiast. I say this as the owner of a site that is outselling any dealer in Nissan’s largest market for the GT-R. Even though GT-R sales have improved from a couple years ago, more can still be sold. Even though many of our vendors are seeing a lot of business, with some expanding their operations to accommodate, even more business could be done. And while NAGTROC is continuing to grow in size, that growth rate could be even higher.
Nissan’s efforts in this area have earned it an F. Nissan hasn’t attempted to address the stated concern in any shape form or fashion.
It behoves Nissan to meet the community on this. If Nissan needs any further reason to act, the fact that money can be made should be reason enough.
"That'd be really nice if they are wanting $5000 for the flash, but what are the legalities?" ->
"I found out from the R&T magazine that dealer will or is offering upgrade program to make 09-11 GTRs to 2012 GTR specs. I am very interested in this offer since I was looking to install Switzer package on my car. You still can keep your warranty and beat Z06 and 2012 Porsche Turbo S." ->
"Has anyone attempted the 2012 suspension upgrade? the GTR for me is a DD and i can use a little more comfort on the long drives. Would like to hear from any members that have looked into this. I believe there was a thread about packages that where avail from nissan japan. please advise" ->
"This (upgrade program) would be a big deal to me as I would like to purchase a discounted 2010 that the dealer has on the showroom floor. It would be interested to see if the techs could install these 'updates' prior to delivery." ->
Due to the importance of this topic and Nissan’s gross lack of performance, the recommendations regarding this topic will be clarified, simplified and detailed again in the next Open Letter.
Posted 11 June 2012 - 06:44 AM
One of the key issues the community faces is that the GT-R’s performance abilities exceed most owners skill sets and most prospective owners experiences to date. Due to fears regarding comfort levels, instruction access, warranty fears, danger and safety, and others, many don’t track their cars (GT-Rs or otherwise). Another key issue the community faces is that prospective GT-R owners don’t get sufficient exposure to the GT-R. It’s just not a car that you can understand on paper, it’s so different and so far superior to others in its price range that it must be experienced first person. It is clear that Nissan needs to have its own GT-R events. As I originally put it:
NNA should organize a series of weekend High Performance Drivers Education Events across the US. These can be campaigned as "The Legend is Real" or "Realizing the Legend", or similar. During these events, Nissan can provide a safe driving and educational environment for GT-R owners to better learn their cars. Owners could pay to participate, helping Nissan with the costs. Prospective GT-R owners can be invited by local dealers to attend. For them, it would be a great opportunity to meet other GT-R owners and experience the GT-R's performance first hand, through ride alongs with GT-R instructors.
By any name it reads like the 2013 GT-R Experience almost to the letter. I noted that, if executed, this would result in:
Improved ownership experience due to better understanding and appreciation for the vehicles they own (at amateur levels)
Increased satisfaction and pride toward the Nissan and GT-R brands
Improved ownership experience due to the opportunities to meet other GT-R owners in Nissan organized events
Improved satisfaction with the GT-R operation experience for GT-R Premier members
Can guide customer experience further: as customers understand the GT-R more, they can understand more of the value of programs offered
Advertising & significantly improved brand image as GT-Rs compete successfully
Further opportunity to interact with customers and gain valuable feedback from real world GT-R operation, as intended.
Happier customer base
Added business and service opportunities
Improved customer satisfaction
How was Nissan’s effort received? A few of the comments:
"Now that I have driven the 2013 I fully understand what Nissan has done. Big props to Mizuno and his team. They have taken an amazing car and refined it to perfection...If I hadn't taken the course I did with my 09, I would be at the dealership tomorrow trading it in for a 13. As it is, I know I can get around a track faster in my 09, but it's no longer the anywhere, anyone, anytime car Nissan created. It drives just fine on the street, it's amazing on the track, but I won't be driving it to the mountains ever. The solution is simple, two GT-Rs." ->
"THIS WAS SUCH AN AMAZING EVENT. I really cannot stress this enough...everything from the high quality free goodies to the Skip Barber instruction, to the food...it was all awesome and blew away my expectations. I can't wait for my 2013 to arrive and I really hope Nissan does more of these events!!!!" ->
"The event was absolutely awesome! ...It was well organized and had the time of my life! ...2013 GTR felt like a different car compared to my 2010... I want one now..." ->
"I'm still pretty speechless, thoroughly impressed with Nissan putting on such an amazing event. Although it was incredible taking my own car on the track and pushing my comfort zone, the end of the day hot lap was my highlight. Anybody that got to experience that, got a real treat. I can't describe to you on how many times in my head I said "ok this would be a good time to brake... no??? oh s#$%, now??? no???..." Looking forward to next year." ->
"Nothing I can say that hasn't been said already, but I just want to add my most sincere thanks to Skip Barber and especially Nissan of course for setting up such a great event. You made us all feel special..." ->
If continued, this event will translate to a much more positive GT-R ownership experience and ultimately more sales - both through those who attend and through those who hear about the event from those who went. Exactly as promised.
Nissan gets very, very high marks here. Especially since they went so far to address this issue: Nissan not only made events free, but also included extensive gift packages for participants, something that wasn’t even necessary to address the original concerns.
Also noted in the previous Open Letter, it was the recommended that:
...(2) Nissan supported "intermediate" racing endeavors. Programs such as the Nismo program and GT-R Premier as suggested above would do much to help grassroots race efforts. This in turn would help the GT-R community to achieve positive results in competitions such as Redline Time Attack, NASA sanctioned events, One Lap of America, and in other racing endeavors. (3) Where appropriate, Nissan should continue to back professional and nonprofessional but organized race efforts, providing guidance and support where needed.
Nissan has done that as well. Racing below FIA GT3 has been supported, even if behind the scenes. In the US, multiple companies have reported to support from Nissan to me - even on issues such transmission service and maintenance. This is to be applauded as the GT-R isn’t viable to race without this sort of support.
Nissan is also to be credited for bringing enthusiasts into the mix at race events all over the US. This has been received well within the community and it’s great for owner satisfaction.
Nissan has clearly earned an A here. Outstanding.
These key steps, particularly the creation of the 2013 GT-R Experience, are helping to fundamentally improve the relationship between Nissan and its customers. By doing this, Nissan is setting the stage for a dialogue that could not happen as easily before. And it’s an important dialogue - one that Nissan can use to offer future products and services to customers. In turn, customers are now more interested in hearing from Nissan. And more likely to give Nissan a fair chance when Nissan makes offers to them. Customers are also more likely to tell others about Nissan and how happy they are. This is advertising that can’t be purchased. Nissan must continue this to the maximum extent possible.
Well done Nissan. The only caution I’ll throw out is that it’s important to continue to bring prospective owners and to make sure that dealers and the media are aware of the events. It’s leaving big impressions and Nissan needs to capitalize on that to the maximum extent possible.
Posted 11 June 2012 - 06:45 AM
At the root of this issue is the fact that GT-R ownership is very different from other cars and that Nissan and its dealer network need to do more to help prospective GT-R owners become familiar with the GT-R. These individuals, debating the purchase of a GT-R, need to understand that the GT-R is designed to be driven in conditions where other sports cars can’t. They need to understand something of what Nissan has put into place to help make this happen so that they understand it’s not just hype and that this performance is truly real and unique to the GT-R. In doing so, the value proposition of the GT-R is maximized to the prospective owner, making a purchase more likely. Post purchase, that owner is more likely to do more with the car and do so safely, as he understands the specific maintenance and configuration options Nissan has developed for the car. In turn, that owner is more likely to have a superior ownership experience. But not only is this not happening, dealers aren’t even treating customers well.
"The worst thing about the GTR is the buying process. These salesman think they are above everyone, and this does not sell cars. I had my car shipped cross country because I found a dealership and salesman that were easy to work with. Never have a had such a hard time dealing with salesman. The managers were actually even worse. Reading threads like this remind me of all the bad experiences I had when purchasing my car." ->
"Most Nissan dealers don't know how to handle a machine or a client of this caliber. It's a frustrating experience from purchasing to routine maintenance of the car. I sold my 2010 GT-R recently and I miss the car very much but not the stupid dealers." ->
"...They lied to me, they lied to Nissan, lied to me again; Nissan has a lot of work to do with their dealers and this car..." ->
New buyers in general don’t have any more information than buyers a couple years ago had. Dealers offer poor customer service, aren’t always very educated on the GT-R, and to make matters worse, many are still asking more than MSRP.
As an online Owner/Dealer/Nissan link hasn’t been created, and as there are no post-purchase product options for customers, the only conversation dealers and customers can have after delivery is on standard maintenance. As a result, dealers have few options in continuing conversations with customers and can only discuss working for service business. While some dealers are doing a good job of this, it’s not the best situation for them to be in given the nature of the GT-R and customer hopes and expectations. Unfortunately, it’s the best that dealers can do.
Nissan’s grade here is a D, needs improvement. At a minimum, dealers need new product information and guidance from Nissan. As this issue is related to a number of other issues previously presented, it will not be restated. Instead, the core concepts behind this issue will be tied into other, more overarching issues that GT-R owners have and presented in the next Open Letter.
Posted 11 June 2012 - 06:45 AM
To summarize, this is how Nissan has performed over the last 18 months:
If these categories were weighted evenly, Nissan’s average score would be in the bottom of the C- range. Referring back to the criteria that merits a C, the description is:
“Recognizing an effort being made and positive results being seen, even if the community’s requirements have not been addressed, nets a Progressing evaluation.”
That pretty accurately sums up where we are today. Progress has been made in many areas, some more than others, but on the whole Nissan has a lot of work left to do. To be sure, when analyzing GT-R sales, one cannot expect outstanding performance without outstanding effort. And the importance of addressing the owner community’s concerns cannot be underemphasized.
Looking forward, Nissan has its work cut out for it. However, the world isn’t a static place and customers’ needs have changed. In light of that, Nissan will soon be provided with an updated list of recommendations for its FY 12+ GT-R program in the form of a new Open Letter on behalf of the North American GT-R Owner’s Club.
It is my hope that Nissan takes this evaluation and these areas of concern seriously, and gives fair consideration to the ideas presented. Regardless of whether Nissan agrees with the specific recommended solutions, these issues reflect real community and customer concerns and it is my hope that Nissan will strive to meet the needs of current and future GT-R owners in the coming fiscal years.
Nissan's FY12 Progress Report - Open Letter to Nissan II
R35 GT-R Launch @ TMS07 - SpecV Launch "America Isn't Ready" - NAGTROC Visits Tochigi
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