Nissan will have the youngest portfolio of all the Japanese brands in about a year, Nissan executives told dealers at a make meeting last week.
Following the launch of the redesigned Sentra compact sedan and a freshened Titan pickup, Nissan will deliver a reboot of the Rogue crossover later in the year.
At the meeting, Nissan committed to quicker transitions to the next model year, according to dealers who attended. Its 2021 models will come two to three months sooner in their cycles than the 2020 models did, said Tyler Slade, operating partner of Tim Dahle Nissan Southtowne in South Jordan, Utah.
Having fresher products sooner means dealers won't have to worry as much about getting rid of older inventory that requires discounting, said Slade, who is also a member of the Nissan National Dealer Advisory Board.
"Right now, we have too many 2019s on dealer lots," he said. "That hurts our business."
Under a dealer program announced Feb. 13, retailers will receive additional financial incentives to sell down vehicles from the 2019 model year. The program, called Nissan Drive 2020, also boosts dealer bonuses for meeting sales targets and increases the brand's marketing outlays by about 60 percent over last year.
Dealer feedback in the Drive 2020 program has been resounding, David Kershaw, Nissan division vice president of sales and regional operations, told Automotive News after the make meeting.
"Dealers understand that we are really putting an aggressive plan in place to sustain the business and grow the business in our Q1, Q2," Kershaw said. "My phone has blown up, my email has blown up. There's a renewed sense of true confidence in what we are trying to do ... and we need to get selling some cars and trucks."
The Nissan make meeting, attended by more than 300 dealers, addressed the prickly issue of slumping retailer profitability and waning enthusiasm in the brand.
Many Nissan retailers have been struggling to maintain profitability as the automaker reboots its model mix and retailing strategy.
Jose Valls, Nissan North America chairman, told the dealers that a turnaround is in progress, but it will take time and be painful.
Kershaw said the automaker is working to help draw more customers into Nissan stores.
"When I talk to dealers, they talk about traffic, traffic, traffic," Kershaw said. "We know that we've got to help generate that traffic for them."
While many retailers have voiced uncertainty about the brand in recent months, many left the Las Vegas meeting optimistic.
"In years past, Nissan would say one thing and six months later do something else," said Patrick Brown, CEO of Viva Auto Group in El Paso, Texas.
"They are being very consistent now. They are doing a good job in standing for what they said they are going to do."
Nissan's freshened product line gives dealer Justin Crain optimism. Good products will attract good customers and take care of profits, said Crain, managing partner at Burleson Nissan near Fort Worth, Texas.
"New cars always make you more optimistic," he said. Nissan is "showing the discipline that it takes to be a good car company."