LOS ANGELES -- Nissan North America Inc. says its pre-sale marketing strategy for the 350Z sports coupe is discouraging dealers from trying to charge over sticker for the glamour car.
Dealers often charge over sticker price when demand for a new vehicle exceeds the expected supply. Vehicles that commanded premiums of thousands of dollars over sticker for some time after their introduction include the Chrysler PT Cruiser, Volkswagen New Beetle, Mercedes SLK and Porsche Boxster.
In an unusual move, Nissan announced the Z's sticker price of $26,809, including freight, in January, seven months before its scheduled showroom debut in mid-August. Fred Suckow, Nissan senior manager of marketing, said the early pricing gave buyers time to shop around.
"The early pricing has shaped behavior among consumers and dealers," Suckow said. "Consumers go onto Web sites and talk to each other to find the dealer that is selling them at MSRP."
Nissan says it has 6,500 Zs ordered through dealers, or 18 percent to 20 percent of the car's expected first-year volume. Because dealers who sell the sports coupe through advance orders will receive priority for ordering additional Zs, Suckow said, dealers who sell more now by sticking close to the sticker price will benefit later.
"We can't control what the dealers charge, so you'll always have one or two cases where (price gouging) happens," Suckow said. "But the majority of our dealers are behaving as they should."
The advance orders have come largely through the car's cult following. On message boards on consumer-built Web sites such as www.myZcar.com and www.my350Z.com, postings from those who say they have ordered the car indicate they have been quoted sticker price, or less than $1,000 over.
The 350Z is expected to grab sales from more expensive cars such as the Porsche Boxster and BMW Z3 while capturing step-up buyers from cars such as the Mitsubishi Eclipse and Toyota Celica GTS.