Sales of light trucks continued to power Nissan Group U.S. sales in September as the combined total for the Nissan and Infiniti brands rose 4.9 percent to 127,797 vehicles.
Nissan Division set a record for September, rising 4.3 percent to 116,384 vehicles. It also set September records with the Rogue compact crossover, up 5.6 percent to 26,459, and the Murano midsize crossover, up 46 percent to 7,536.
Judy Wheeler, Nissan Division vice president for U.S. sales, said the Nissan brand benefited from having fresh product -- the redesigned Armada large SUV, the freshened Pathfinder midsize crossover and the arrival of the gasoline-powered Titan full-size pickup.
The expanded Titan lineup, in particular, will continue to build volume, Wheeler said. Nissan introduced the redesigned Titan with the diesel version.
“That only plays in about 10 percent of the market,” she said. “When you bring in the gasoline version, you play with the big boys.”
Supply of the gasoline-powered Titan will continue to grow after the vehicles arrived midmonth. In September, Titan sales rose 130 percent to 2,484.
Nissan also posted a 104 percent increase for the Armada, selling 1,712 units, and a 29 percent increase for the Pathfinder, selling 8,028 units. Getting more supply of the Frontier midsize pickup boosted its sales 65 percent, to 7,596.
Nissan plans to emphasize trucks in ads this month, Wheeler said.
On the car side, Nissan increased sales of the midsize Altima 3.3 percent to 25,031 and scored a 5.5 percent increase in sales of the Leaf electric vehicle. EVs are “a very difficult segment to compete in,” Wheeler said, with new entrants and discounted pricing.
But sales of the Sentra compact and Versa subcompact fell in September. The Sentra slid 3.7 percent and the Versa plunged 36 percent.
Infiniti sales rose 12 percent to 11,413 vehicles, led by a 23 percent increase in Q50 sedan sales to 4,359. But the QX60 midsize crossover dropped 19 percent to 3,126.
Wheeler said economic indicators such as gasoline prices, housing sales and low inflation look favorable for the rest of the year. She said Nissan sees car sales staying at their current level, but said, “Definitely crossovers and trucks are what’s growing more. It’s very, very clear.”