NASHVILLE -- Nissan is dropping the coupe version of its best-selling vehicle, the Altima, for the 2014 model year because it sees coupe buyers moving into other segments.
"The youth market is a more stratified market than it used to be," says Scott Gorte, Nissan senior marketing manager for the Altima. "Everybody used to default to coupes to capture younger buyers. But the youth segment is now moving into other products, like small crossovers."
Nissan made the decision to not derive a coupe from the Altima body, which was redesigned for 2013. Planners wanted to throw all available resources into building Altima sedans, Gorte says.
Last year Nissan sold about 20,000 Altima coupes -- roughly 16,000 of them at retail -- compared with more than 280,000 Altima sedans. The automaker is attempting to build the Altima into a higher-volume product to rival the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. But it has a way to go. Toyota sold 404,886 Camrys last year, and Honda sold 331,872 Accords.
Another factor was limited U.S. factory capacity for four-cylinder engines, Gorte says. The coupe was available solely with a four-cylinder powertrain, and Nissan wanted every available four-cylinder engine to support sedan sales, Gorte says.
Another part of the equation was Nissan's forecast for attracting younger buyers. Altima coupe buyers have tended to be about 10 years younger than the average sedan buyer, but Nissan predicted the look of the redesigned Altima sedan would reel in younger buyers.
That bet has paid off. "We've seen the average age of our sedan buyers drop by 2 to 21/2 years since the redesign," Gorte says. "The tea leaves are favoring other products for young buyers in the future."