Altima boosts Nissan as competitors roil December
NASHVILLE -- Despite rough competition in the mid-sized sedan segment, the redesigned Nissan Altima helped lift Nissan Division to its best U.S. sales year ever.
Nissan Division sales fell 4 percent in December to 86,663, despite the presence of the new-generation Altima. Nissan sold 302,934 Altimas for the calendar year, a 13 percent gain over 2011 and the first time the nameplate has sold more than 300,000 units.
Altima volume helped Nissan Division sell 1,021,779 vehicles for the year, an 8 percent increase from 2011.
Infiniti brand sales rose 15 percent in December, to 12,627 units, and increased 22 percent over 2011 full-year sales. Infiniti’s sales were lifted for the year by the JX crossover, which sold 21,674through year end.
Al Castignetti, Nissan Division vice president of sales, says December proved tough going as his key competitors pushed aggressively in the sedan market.
“It ended up being a very competitive month,” Castignetti says. “The industry saw a lot of competitive offers and incentives and year-end sales. We saw incentives we’re not accustomed to seeing from some manufacturers.”
He said the strongest pressure came in marketing pushes behind the mid-sized 2012 Toyota Camry and the compact 2012 Honda Civic, which is one segment class below the Altima. Volkswagen also pressed for market share for its mid-sized Passat, which doubled its volume over a year earlier.
“This segment used to be pretty much a three-horse race, between Toyota, Honda and Nissan,” Castignetti says. “The market has gotten crowded with some pretty good products.”
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