NEW YORK -- José Muñoz is counting on trucks and more trucks to get Nissan North America Inc. closer to its goal of 10 percent market share and beyond, in the truck-crazy U.S. market.
“The best way to grow our share is to increase our share of the truck market,” Muñoz, the chairman of Nissan North America, said at a meeting of the International Motor Press Association here Thursday.
Muñoz expects Nissan’s light-truck product pipeline to deliver. Nissan is promoting the 2017 model year as the “Year of the Truck.”
The facelifted 2017 Pathfinder crossover went on sale in late August. A new variant, the 2017 Titan half-ton, a full-size pickup, went on sale in mid-August. So did the redesigned 2017 Armada full-size SUV.
“Our focus today is to launch all these trucks,” Muñoz said. He said for the U.S., Canada and Mexico combined, market share is already close to the 10 percent goal, at about 9.5 percent. (The Automotive News Data Center calculates Nissan's North American market share at 10.1 percent through the first seven months of 2016.) Muñoz added that Ghosn doesn’t intend to stop at 10 percent.
Judy Wheeler, Nissan Division U.S. sales vice president, said separately that the new trucks accounted for few sales in August, even though their official on-sale dates were last month. Sales should start to pick up in September as inventories build, she said.
Munoz and his team have seven months left to deliver a 10 percent U.S. market share for Nissan and Infiniti by the end of March 2017, a goal set in 2011 by Nissan Motor Co. CEO Carlos Ghosn.
Its inch-by-inch climb from an 8.2 percent share five years ago has alienated some retailers, who feel the company has been too focused on volume at the expense of brand and franchise value.
Muñoz said the company has a U.S. passenger-car market share of around 11 percent, but only around 6-plus percent in light-truck share. (Through the first eight months of 2016, the Automotive News Data Center calculates Nissan's share of the U.S. car market at 11.8 percent and its light-truck share at 7.2 percent.)
The automaker’s U.S. light-vehicle market share, including both Nissan and Infiniti brands, was 9 percent through August, up from 8.6 percent a year earlier, Automotive News Data Center figures show.
For all of 2015, Nissan North America had U.S. passenger-car share of 10.7 percent, up from 10.5 percent in 2014. U.S. light-truck share was 6.8 percent, up from 6.5 percent.
Through August for the entire U.S. industry, light trucks made up 59.5 percent of light-vehicle sales, up from 55.3 percent a year earlier, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
Lindsay Chappell contributed to this report.