NASHVILLE -- Bigger sales of its outgoing 2017 models helped boost the Nissan brand's U.S. sales by 12 percent last month, setting a January record of 112,903 vehicles.
Infiniti tallied an 8 percent decline for the month as it phased out old-generation crossovers, posting January sales of 10,635.
Nissan Division is still focused on a large-scale sell-down of 2017s, with 2018 model-year vehicles slowly coming into showrooms. The brand reduced its average incentive spend by $377 from December, according to Judy Wheeler, Nissan vice president for U.S. sales. But the availability of incentivized '17-model sedans helped drive increases for the Sentra, Altima and Maxima sedans. All Nissan brand car sales increased 5.6 percent.
The January arrival of bigger numbers of 2018 models after some delay also allowed Nissan to begin fulfilling fleet orders for the year, which was also reflected in the sales increase over January 2017. Combined sales of Nissan crossovers, trucks and SUVs set a January record, up 18 percent, the company said.
Nissan's U.S. deliveries to fleets surged 48 percent last month, Bloomberg reported, citing Cox Automotive data.
Nissan and Infiniti sales combined totaled 123,538 for the month, for a gain of 10 percent.
Brands in January: Nissan -- 112,903, up 12.1%; Infiniti -- 10,635, a decline of 8%.
Notable nameplates: Nissan Rogue crossover set a January record with sales of 36,184, an increase of 26%. The Frontier pickup sold 5,901, a gain of 53%, with the help of a midmonth bonus cash increase. Altima sales rose 6.6% to 20,185. Infiniti posted 1,830 QX80 crossover sales, an increase of 38% and a January record. Sales of the QX60 increased 38% to 3,029, also a monthly record.
Incentives: ALG reports combined Nissan-Infiniti incentives per vehicle of $4,370 for January, a 9.4% increase from January 2017.
Average transaction price: $27,503, according to an estimate from ALG, nearly flat from January 2017's estimated $27,594.
U.S. market share: 10.7% in January 2018 vs. 9.2% for all of 2017 and 9.8% in January 2017.
Inventory: Nissan Division continued to operate with a smaller-than-normal share of 2018-model vehicles through January. A portion of the just-arriving '18s were used to fulfill outstanding orders from daily rental customers.
Quotes: "For Rogue to be able to rise 26 was significant," Wheeler said. "Any time we can do that on a core vehicle is very positive. Sentra also had a nice month, with a 32 percent gain. In a very tough segment we're continuing to hold our own."
"Nissan looks like it's remaining aggressive in its goal to increase market share and overtake American Honda this year," said Zohaib Rahim, research manager for Cox Automotive. "Their full-year 2017 market share was 9.2 percent while American Honda came in at 9.5 percent, so look for Nissan to continue its incentives and fleet strategy to win market share. Nissan fleet sales were roughly 25 percent of total sales for the month of January 2017, a year ago, and it's safe to assume continued sales growth across their fleet channels in January 2018 as well."
Did you know? A disproportionate amount of Nissan Division incentives are on 2017 models, which are still accounting for a large share of sales due to a late launch of several 2018 nameplates.
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