After several years of contentious dealer meetings, Nissan and its dealers finally have something to cheer about.
The parent company is engineering a turnaround plan and delivering a strong flow of new products.
'Business is good. We have great new products, and profits are up,' said Jack Caldwell, president of Premier Autoplaza in Little Rock, Ark., in a make meeting at the NADA convention. 'We just need our next products to be as good as Xterra and Maxima.'
Jed Connelly, Nissan Division's general manager, said 86 percent of Nissan dealerships are profitable, with those dealers' profits up 50 percent in 1999 over the previous year. Nissan Division sold 604,575 units in 1999, up 8.4 percent from 1998.
Dealers want to be sure the product flow is continuing. With a redesigned Sentra coming in two months and the Altima, Maxima and Frontier on short life cycles, it appears dealers' fears were assuaged.
Nissan also piqued dealers' interest with news about the Z and a full-sized pickup. The Z is being redrawn by the Japanese, American and European studios after its first and second editions didn't pass muster. It will be unveiled in July. And while Nissan Motor COO Carlos Ghosn has not officially signed off on the truck, Connelly winked to dealers that the program is in the works.
Dealers also were concerned about recurring changes in the Nissan North America boardroom.
'We need to maintain the consistency of the last 12 months. We have to quit the executive musical chairs,' said Art Kelly, president of Kelly Nissan in Oak Lawn, Ill.
Another concern is a lack of communication between dealers and Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp. With NMAC becoming more conservative to stay in the black, some dealers think the finance arm is not buying deep enough. Kelly said NMAC might want to conduct its own NADA meeting.
Dealers also think the certified used-car program needs new energy. When Nissan disbanded the Nissan Plus remarketing program, it also took away much of the support to make the used cars sell.