Nissan North America is offering a bottom-line boost to its financially embattled U.S. retailers as showroom traffic slows in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
For the month of March, dealers will be guaranteed a $375 bonus per vehicle sold.
Earlier this year, Nissan increased the dealer volume bonus from $250 per vehicle sold to $550 per vehicle for meeting sales goals during the February-to-September period.
It now intends to pay $375 per vehicle regardless of the dealer's sales goal.
Additionally, finance captive Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp. is lowering its dealer floorplan rates. Qualifying dealers also will be able to apply for the cash-flow assistance program, which allows six months of interest-only payments on existing mortgages and capital loans.
"We continue to monitor how the situation is affecting traffic to your showrooms," David Kershaw, Nissan division vice president of sales and regional operations, said in a letter to dealers obtained by Automotive News. "We will adjust as we can to support and remain competitive."
The health crisis gripping the auto industry comes at a particularly hard time for Nissan and its dealers.
Nissan Division's U.S. sales slumped 8.7 percent to 1.22 million vehicles last year, in an overall market down just 1.2 percent. The decline was partly a result of a strategic decision to cut back on its sales to rental fleet customers.
Meanwhile, about 40 percent of Nissan's dealers are losing money or just breaking even, a dealer told Automotive News earlier this year.
Nissan dealer Tyler Slade is hopeful Nissan's latest moves will help its retailers "navigate this uncharted territory" safely.
"I believe this is the right thing to do," said Slade, operating partner of Tim Dahle Nissan Southtowne in South Jordan, Utah. "Now is not the time for objectives."
The COVID-19 crisis has also scuttled a flashy marketing campaign Nissan had planned around the now-canceled NCAA March Madness basketball tournament. Nissan is the official sponsor NCAA men's basketball.
As with most automakers, Nissan has instituted a work-from-home policy for non-business-critical salaried employees. For now, Nissan's assembly plants in Smyrna, Tenn., and Canton, Miss., remain in operation.