New capacity helps Nissan roll to records

Nissan chalked up car and truck sales of 96,526 for December, up 11 percent from December 2012.

Photo credit: BLOOMBERG
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NASHVILLE -- New North American factory capacity for Sentra sedans and Rogue crossovers boosted the Nissan brand to record December and full-year sales.

Nissan chalked up car and truck sales of 96,526 for December, up 11 percent from December 2012. Sales for the year reached 1,131,965 cars and trucks, an 11 percent gain from 2012.

Nissan North America, including the Infiniti brand, sold 109,758 cars and trucks in December, an 11 percent gain from December 2012 volumes. The automaker's combined full-year volumes rose 9 percent to 1,248,240 in 2013.

December was the first full month of sales for U.S.-built Rogues from Smyrna, Tenn. Rogue sales rose 28 percent to 14,676 for the month. Retailers are also now receiving a flow of Sentras from a new plant in Aguascalientes, Mexico, that opened in November.

"It's all coming together for us now," says Fred Diaz, Nissan senior vice president for U.S. sales, marketing, parts and service. "The new products we launched over the past 18 months are selling well. The wind in the sales of the U.S. industry is helping. And our dealers are really behind our vision of where we want to see Nissan go. We're working well together."

Nissan's U.S. dealers sold 866,049 North American-made vehicles in 2013, up by 16 percent from 2012 levels. Domestic factories supplied 77 percent of the brand's sales in 2013, compared to 73 percent in 2012.

Nissan struggled to produce enough Mexican-made Versa sedans in December, Diaz said, causing the model to fall 17 percent in volume to 8,864 sales.

The Maxima, a Smyrna-built sedan that is nearing the end of its model life, benefitted from an incentives campaign of short-term bonus cash in December. Maxima sales rose 57 percent to 6,509 for the month.

"We took a look at the Maxima, and our days supply had not been ideal," Diaz said. "If you take an older car like the Maxima and offer an incentives play on it, and nothing happens, then you know where you stand. But if you offer incentives and it takes off, then you know the car and the brand are still working for customers.

"That's what we experienced last month with the Maxima."

Nissan plans to reveal a concept at this month's Detroit auto show that suggests the next-generation Maxima design.

Two models lifted Infiniti-brand sales in December. The new Q50 sedan, selling side-by-side with the old-generation G-sedan, delivered 6,028 sales, compared to 4,482 G sedans in Dec. 2012.

The QX60 crossover posted a 38-percent increase, to 3,744 sales last month.

You can reach Lindsay Chappell at lchappell@crain.com.


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