Diaz: Nissan N.A. to gain 'profitable' share

Diaz: We had priced ourselves out of the market. Photo credit: URSULA ZERILLI

DETROIT -- U.S. sales boss Fred Diaz expects Nissan North America to continue gaining U.S. market share in 2014 as it rolls out more new models.

After Nissan North America's volume jumped 9 percent in 2013, Diaz expects the company's growth to slow this year but still outperform the rest of the industry.

"We hope to grow sales," helped by the momentum of the redesigned 2014 Rogue that went on sale in November and the redesigned 2015 Murano due in the fall, he told Automotive News today after addressing the Automotive Press Association here. "But we'll do it with more emphasis on being profitable."

Nissan North America's U.S. market share inched up to 8 percent last year from 7.9 percent in 2012.

In January, Nissan North America's U.S. sales rose 12 percent in an overall market that skidded 3 percent.

Diaz said Nissan's 2013 decision to cut sticker prices on several popular models was risky but has paid off. Nissan has reduced average per-vehicle incentives by $375 while increasing average transaction prices by $95, Diaz said.

"It was something we had to do," he said. "We had simply priced ourselves out of the market."

Nissan is working to get more "share of mind" from dealers who also sell other brands, Diaz said. Efforts include having discussions with all 1,161 U.S. dealers, meeting every month last year with the dealer advisory board and adopting product changes sought by dealers.

That's paying off in higher profitability at Nissan dealers, Diaz said.

"Net profits are up 25 percent, return on sales up 33 basis points, parts profitability is 25 percent higher and service profitability is up 34 percent," he said.

Nissan has two other dealer-related goals. This year, it will revamp its ordering system to get vehicles to dealers faster.

And by 2015, Diaz expects that Nissan will source 85 percent of the vehicles it sells in the United States from plants in the United States and Mexico.

You can reach Jesse Snyder at jsnyder@crain.com -- Follow Jesse on Twitter: https://twitter.com/spartyjesse

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