TOKYO — Nissan said cratering sales of some of the brand's most popular compact vehicles should start to recover this quarter as the company ramps up microchip-constrained production.
Slumping sales of the Sentra and Versa small cars and Kicks compact crossover helped fuel an overall 6.9 percent decline in global sales at Nissan Motor Co. for the October to December quarter.
COO Ashwani Gupta said sales of those models, all made in Mexico, have been torpedoed by severe production constraints caused by the ongoing global semiconductor shortage.
"Where we faced the challenge was Sentra, Kicks and Versa, which dropped 40 percent with respect to last year because of the very particular semiconductor shortage for these cars," Gupta said Thursday in announcing the Japanese carmaker's fiscal third-quarter financial results.
Traditionally, these popular nameplates combine to comprise about 18 percent of U.S. dealer inventory. But recently, they have accounted for as little as 5 percent of stock.
North American production of the Versa, for example, plunged 45 percent in 2022, to 61,799 vehicles for the full year, as U.S. sales of the popular economy car tanked 78 percent, according to the Automotive News Data Center. Sentra sales dropped 40 percent, while Kicks fell 34 percent.
Gupta said output and sales will start to recover in the current quarter ending March 31.
"Now, from quarter four, when we are ramping up our production for Sentra, Kicks and Versa because the product mix in the United States is changing, we will recover," Gupta said.
Nissan said demand for smaller, affordable product is on the rise as customers react to rising fuel prices, sticker prices and interest rates.
Availability of the Z sports car and Ariya all-electric crossover will also gradually improve. Wait times for certain configurations of these nameplates currently reach one year, Gupta said.
"This is where we are working hard to recover," he said.