NASHVILLE -- Record February U.S. light-truck sales could not prevent Nissan North America deliveries from declining 4.3% in February from a year ago.
The decrease of 9,160 Nissan brand car sales from last year -- many of them the Altima, which is reaching the end of its model cycle -- was enough to offset the 4,267 sales gain on the truck side.
Conversely, Infiniti car sales rose across the lineup for the month, while sales of the luxury brand's truck portfolio were hurt by fewer QX30 crossovers and reduced inventories this year of the QX50 and QX70.
Brands: Nissan down 4% to 117,110, Infiniti down 6.7% to 12,820.
Notable nameplates: Rogue, Nissan's volume leader, rose 15% to 38,119 sales, with help from the nameplate's new Rogue Sport variation. Both of Nissan's pickups increased for the month. Frontier moved up 69% to 7,992 and Titan improved 26% to 3,761. Infiniti's QX30 was off 68% from February 2017, selling 775. Infiniti said the decrease is compared with a sales bubble in February 2017 when the model arrived in dealerships in large numbers.
Incentives: $4,101 per vehicle in February, up from $3,976 a year earlier, according to ALG's forecast for Nissan and Infiniti brands combined.
Average transaction price: $28,019, a 1.6% increase from a year earlier, ALG says.
Quotes: "Our crossover sales were up and we see that strength in the market continuing," said Judy Wheeler, Nissan Division's vice president for U.S. sales. "Our plan is to make sure we're consistent in the market for the next few months. We want our dealers to know that this is where we're going to be, and this is the offer we're going with, so they can make long-term plans with their inventory.
"The market was softer and the interest rate hike spooked people a little bit," Wheeler said. "Our certified pre-owned results were up a lot for the month, and that's evidence of people pulling back from new-car sales. We also saw an increase in the Sentra, even though we cut back on our incentives there. It surprised me. The competition is tough there. But it goes back to the interest rate issue. I think customers came in maybe looking for one thing but found the Sentra a more affordable choice."
"Fleet sales ran hot in 2017 and January 2018, but the brand could be slowly letting its foot off the gas, with Toyota likely picking up the slack. A slow February does not likely take away from Nissan's attempt to exceed Honda's market share this year," said Zohaib Rahim, research manager for Cox Automotive.
Did you know? Nissan and Infiniti have been waiting for new models to arrive in showrooms -- Nissan's redesigned electric Leaf, for which there are 14,500 reservations, and Infiniti's redesigned QX50, for which Infiniti has 14,000 reservations. Neither model arrived in time to affect February sales.