NASHVILLE -- Nissan brand's sales dipped in November after 13 straight months of year-over-year increases.
But no one is blaming the 2 percent setback on one of the most notable changing market factors of the moment: cheaper fuel.
Gas pump prices of $2.70 a gallon and lower have coincided with an industry uptick in sales of large pickups and crossovers. Some observers wonder whether the falling prices also could weaken consumers' resolve to buy fuel-efficient small vehicles.
That's not happening at Nissan, says Fred Diaz, Nissan's senior vice president for U.S. sales and marketing and operations.
"We've been wondering about that and watching for signs that things might be changing," Diaz acknowledges. "But we're seeing no indication whatsoever at Nissan."
Such a sea change would have particular marketing implications for Nissan. The carmaker has spent the past few years pushing fuel economy as part of its brand image. It asserts that its vehicles represent one of the industry's most fuel-efficient fleets.
In fact, Nissan's November declines occurred primarily among its midsize and large vehicles, including the Altima and Maxima sedans and the Murano crossover, which is about to be replaced in showrooms. The compact Juke also lost some ground from a year earlier.
Contrarily, the company's most fuel-efficient vehicles continue to gain ground as pump prices fall. Sales of the subcompact Versa rose 12 percent in November, and sales of the compact Sentra increased 16 percent over November 2013.
The all-electric Leaf -- which uses no gasoline -- posted a 34 percent increase in sales in November.