Nissan, Honda outpace the market on crossovers, sedans

The subcompact Honda HR-V crossover, in its second full month on the market, accounted for U.S. sales of 5,909 units in July.

American Honda Motor Co. and Nissan North America both showed solid sales growth in July, thanks to brisk sales of small crossovers, midsize sedans and luxury cars, data released today show.

Both automakers, as well as their volume divisions, Honda brand and Nissan brand, outpaced the industrywide gain of 5.3 percent in July.

American Honda’s sales rose 7.7 percent to 146,324 units. Honda-brand sales climbed 6.5 percent to 131,409, while Acura sales shot up 20 percent to 14,915.

The Honda Accord had a robust month, with sales of 34,496 units. That was down 1.6 percent from a year ago, but was still the highest Accord total since August 2014.

The small Civic also performed well, with its sales increasing 3.7 percent to 31,139. But sales of the subcompact Fit dropped 15 percent to 4,332.

The HR-V small crossover, in its second full month on the market, accounted for sales of 5,909 units.

“You hear reports that car sales are collapsing. Well, ours aren’t collapsing,” said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda.

The Acura brand’s total put it ahead of Cadillac’s 14,154 for the month, the tenth time in the last 11 months it has bested its older and traditionally larger rival. Powering Acura higher were the new TLX sedan, with sales of 3,530 cars in July, and the redesigned ILX, up 31 percent last month to 1,613.

Mendel said the new cars add a dimension to Acura on top of its solid footing in luxury sport-utility vehicles, where the MDX and RDX combination is long established among the segment leaders.

The Nissan brand's U.S. sales climbed 6.7 percent to 120,439 units last month.

Faster-growing Nissan

Nissan North America’s growth outpaced American Honda’s. Its sales rose 7.8 percent to 130,872 cars and trucks. Nissan-brand sales climbed 6.7 percent to 120,439 units; Infiniti had an increase of 22 percent, to 10,433.

For Nissan brand, the biggest gain came from the Rogue, whose sales jumped 51 percent to 25,081 vehicles. Its larger crossover, the Murano, also posted a gain of 18 percent, to 5,459 units.

Nissan’s Altima sedan bucked the downward trend in small and midsize cars, as it sales soared 27 percent to 33,842 units, a July record.

“There’s no doubt the midsize segment is under fire, under pressure, but the Altima continues to deliver for us,” said Fred Diaz, Nissan’s senior vice president for sales and marketing.

He said the automaker did not rely on heavy incentives to drive its sales in July. “We’re not doing anything crazy, nothing special. We’re just being competitive,” he said.

The company is now four months into a sales push that set ambitious growth targets for its dealers, and pays specific bonuses to Nissan dealers who outpace the Honda and Toyota stores in their area.

In contrast to the Altima, sales of the Leaf, Versa and Maxima each fell by more than 25 percent.

At Infiniti, sales of the Q50 jumped 55 percent to 3,807, even as sales of the Q40/Q60 slid 64 percent to 726. Sales of the QX60 surged 68 percent to 3,760.

You can reach Neal E. Boudette at NBoudette@crain.com -- Follow Neal E. on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nealboudette

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