NASHVILLE -- Strong deliveries of the freshened Sentra compact, to both retail and fleet customers, lifted the Nissan brand’s U.S. sales up 13 percent in February, setting a record for the month.
Nissan Division sold 120,540 vehicles in February, with Sentra volume rising 34 percent to 20,599 vehicles. The model is just reaching the market in force after a significant update for 2016.
Murano crossover deliveries increased 86 percent over Feb. 2015 to 7,445 vehicles. And the large Maxima sedan also scored in February, with volume increasing 128 percent to 5,222.
However, demand for Nissan’s two volume leaders was flat for the month. Altima sedan deliveries fell 0.5 percent from Feb. 2015 to 28,320. And sales of the fast-rising Rogue crossover edged up 0.7 percent to 21,561.
The slowdown in Rogue volume occurred as Nissan phased out the Rogue Select, a lower-priced, older version of the crossover.
The Sentra’s gain came from greater availability and also partly from Nissan’s fleet customers, said Judy Wheeler, vice president for U.S. Nissan Division sales.
“Some of our larger fleet customers have been waiting for the new Sentra, and we’re under contractual obligation to deliver them at set times,” she said. “But our cars did very well in general. Even the very small decrease for the Altima occurred as that segment is declining around the industry.”
Overall, the Nissan brand’s U.S. car sales rose 13 percent last month, and its light-truck deliveries advanced 13 percent.
Wheeler said Nissan retailers reported some success in February converting customers who came in to buy used vehicles into buying new Versas instead. U.S. sales of the subcompact car rose 2.9 percent to 12,249 vehicles.
She also noted that the redesigned Titan full-size pickup delivered a 30 percent sales increase for February, despite the fact that Nissan currently is producing only one version of the truck -- the diesel engine XD. Nissan expects that version to represent only 10 percent of the new Titan’s total sales once all versions are available.
Infiniti’s U.S. sales declined 11 percent for the month to 10,371 vehicles.
Randy Parker, vice president for Infiniti Americas, says dealers have sold most 2015 inventory of Infiniti’s volume leaders, the Q50 and QX60, and 2016 models are not yet available.
The QX60 crossover will be refreshed for 2016, and the Q50 sedan will receive a new line of engines.
Parker says the new vehicles should reach dealerships by mid-March.
“The dealers did a great job of selling last month, and now we’ve got to get more product on the ground,” he says.
QX60 sales slipped 8.5 percent to 2,730 vehicles.
Infiniti’s re-engineered QX50 crossover posted sales of 1,396 for the month -- an increase of 689 percent from a year ago.
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