NEW YORK -- Nissan wants to sell more of its vehicles into fleets in the U.S. -- but not in the way its chief competitor recently accused it of operating.
Nissan is looking for new opportunities in profitable commercial fleets, not daily rental fleets, said Jose Munoz, chairman of Nissan North America.
Munoz defended Nissan's strategy during this month's New York auto show, in response to public criticism from John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co. Mendel charged that Nissan's rising U.S. sales volumes came from pushing more vehicles into rental fleets.
In the first quarter, Nissan brand's sales rose 3.1 percent to 333,786 vehicles, while Honda brand sales rose 2.4 percent to 294,299. U.S. new light-vehicle sales rose 5.6 percent.
Munoz noted that Nissan's overall fleet business declined 17 percent in March from a year earlier and 3.6 percent in the first quarter of this year from the year-earlier quarter.
"Of course, we need to be active in fleet," Munoz said during the New York show. "In fleet, you have a lot of subsegments. You have the rental, which is not very profitable. And then you have the commercial fleet, which is where we are focusing."