NASHVILLE -- Nissan’s U.S. executives ring a bell in their corporate headquarters every time a sales region outperforms its monthly business plan.
“That bell has been ringing all day,” Fred Diaz, Nissan senior vice president for U.S. sales and marketing, parts and service, said Tuesday after tallying up the May results. “Every one of our five regions blew their plan away for the month.”
Nissan Division reported sales of 125,558 cars and trucks for May, an 18 percent increase over May 2013. The new level represents a record for May volume at Nissan.
Sentra sales increased 75 percent from May a year ago, thanks to new factory capacity in Mexico. Altima sales rose 13 percent to 36,053 for the month. The Versa, Leaf, Juke and even the 370Z and the full-sized NV commercial van all posted more than 30 percent sales gains.
Infiniti brand reported a 31 percent increase in sales for the month, totaling 10,376 vehicles. That increase was due overwhelmingly to demand for the Q50 sedan, which sold 2,938 units in May and was not available in May 2013.
Diaz says the entire industry benefited from stronger consumer confidence in May, aided by five selling weekends in the month. He discounted the lingering effect of pent-up sales demand coming from the bad-winter months earlier this year.
“Consumers are out buying now,” he says. “There’s a lot of momentum.”
The Nissan brand increased retail sales by 23 percent, Diaz says. He said the brand reached record volume despite reducing fleet sales from a year earlier and reducing incentive spending for the month by an average of $120 per vehicle.
According to TrueCar Inc., the consumer vehicle pricing service, Nissan North America’s average incentive spend -- including Infiniti products -- declined $405 per vehicle from May 2013, or just over 14 percent. Industry incentive spending as a whole increased by $18 for the month, or just under 1 percent.
According to TrueCar’s estimates, Nissan North America’s average of $2,400 in per-vehicle incentives in May was still higher than incentive levels at its chief rival manufacturers, American Honda Motor Co., Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. and Hyundai-Kia.
“We’re being very rigorous in how we’re selling our cars now,” Diaz says. “We’re seeing the benefit of our new business plan of being transparent with our dealers.”
In April, the Nissan brand launched a new approach to dealer sales incentives that spelled out individual dealer volume targets for the coming 12 months.
“I can’t emphasize enough to you how important that is to our ability to plan and go forward,” Diaz says. “Our retailers can see our sales plan, they trust the plan, and they trust what we’re doing.”
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