NASHVILLE -- Nissan's fresh product line failed to lift the brand over the twin challenges of a short September sales month and a tight supply of small cars.
Nissan Division posted 77,828 U.S. sales for the month, a decline of 6 percent from September 2012. There were two fewer selling days this September than in September 2012.
Sales of the line's volume-leading Altima dipped 13 percent to 21,221 units in September. But Fred Diaz, Nissan Division vice president of sales, marketing, service and parts, said that resulted in part because Altima sales in August were higher than expected.
"September was a strange month, but it was just an anomaly," Diaz said. "We continue to see strong demand into the fourth quarter of the year."
Diaz says the company is struggling with capacity limits for two critical cars, the Versa and the Sentra. The restyled Sentra was down 17 percent from a year earlier, while the Versa rose just 10 percent despite the introduction of a Versa Note hatchback version.
Diaz says Nissan's U.S. dealers are relying on a recently launched factory line in Mississippi for their Sentras. But a new factory in Mexico will come on line this year to increase the supply of both models, he says.
"We're catching up on supply," he says, adding that it will take 30 to 60 days to build inventories.
The luxury Infiniti brand had sales of 9,040 vehicles for the month, a decline of 4 percent from a year ago.
But sales of the new Q50 sedan helped restore volume levels from the past few months. Infiniti introduced the Q50 in August and sold 2,367 in September.
Although the Q50 was created to replace the G, Infiniti now intends to sell the two together. Combined with the September sales of the G37, Infiniti sold a total of 4,144 entry-segment sedans. In September 2012, Infiniti sold 2,807 G37s.