NASHVILLE – A bad-sales-month-turned-good resulted in a 16 percent gain for Nissan Division in May. The brand sold 81,202 vehicles in May, up from 69,759 in May 2011.
But low floor traffic and disappointing numbers dogged the first half of the month, says Al Castignetti, Nissan Division vice president for sales.
"The first 15 days of the month were nerve-racking," he says. "We're still not clear on what was going on, but we weren't seeing the level of floor traffic that we're comfortable seeing."
The doldrums even depressed sales for the first five days of Nissan's annual May Tent Event sales, which kicked off May 10, Castignetti says.
By month end, dealers had made up the lost time, with demand for light trucks and crossovers accounting for big percentage gains. Rogue sales rose 72 percent to 11,977 units, Quest minivan sales more than doubled to 1,802, and sales of the full-sized Titan pickup increased by 87 percent.
Unit sales of the B-segment Versa totaled 8,643 for the month, an increase of 80 percent over May 2011. Nissan's highest volume product, the Altima, is being sold off to make way for the redesigned model debuting this month. In May, Altima sales declined by 11 percent from a year ago.
Castignetti says the month's sales results are not distorted by last year's natural disasters in Japan, which depleted U.S. inventories for many automakers last summer. In May 2011, Nissan still had ample inventory, he says.
Despite the odd first two weeks of this May, Castignetti believes the market remains on an upward slope.
"Everybody's worrying too much," he says. "I don't see any trends that are cause for concern."
At Infiniti, sales of the new JX crossover pushed the brand's sales up in May by 66 percent to 10,592 vehicles. In May, Infiniti sold 2,678 units of the JX, which was not available last year.
Sales of Infiniti's G sedan rose 40 percent for the month to 3,758 units.