Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misstated Nissan's sales plan and the performance of the Nissan Altima in May. The company began the selldown of 2018 Altima models, not 2017 Altimas, in May.
NASHVILLE -- Nissan North America in May continued what it says will be a multimonth effort to reduce reliance on fleet buyers and incentives, posting a 4.1 percent U.S. sales decline from a year ago.
But despite lower sales for most Nissan and Infiniti nameplates, May's downturn was gentler than April's 28 percent plunge. And the automaker eked out a few gains in May.
Rogue sales rebounded for a May increase of 18 percent, and Leaf volume also picked up.
Billy Hayes, Nissan Division vice president for regional operations, said activity below the surface on a number of fronts is not reflected in the May sales figures. For example, Hayes said Nissan started the selldown of 2018 Altimas in earnest, readying for the introduction of the redesigned 2019 Altima in the fall. Altima and Titan were in good demand despite year-over-year declines, he said. Altima came within 1,000 units of equaling its May 2017 volume of 23,994.
Hayes also said some of May's downturn was part of the industry's shift in segment preference, as consumers steer away from sedans in general, including the Maxima, Altima and Versa.
Brands: Nissan Division fell 3.8% to 120,207, Infiniti declined 7.1% to 11,625.
Notable nameplates: The Rogue crossover increased 18% to 38,413. Leaf sales continued climbing as dealers received more inventory of the redesigned electric vehicle. Sentra sedan sales of 18,103 were down slightly from May 2017 results. Infiniti posted gains for two crossovers: The redesigned QX50 rose 51% to 1,859, and the QX60 climbed 7.8% to 3,718.
Incentives: $3,325 per vehicle in May, down 19% from a year ago, according to ALG's forecast for the Nissan and Infiniti brands combined.
Average transaction price: $27,664, 0.4% higher than a year ago, ALG estimates.
Did you know? Nissan North America is trying to shift away from fleet sales, incentives and high-volume inventories to focus on dealer profitability this year. After a resulting April sales crash, Nissan North America executives stepped up a grass-roots campaign to visit dealers around the country to reassure them that new products and marketing plans will help smooth the transition to the company's new emphasis.