Nissan North America's falling U.S. sales made a U-turn into positive territory in April, even as the automaker slowly pivots away from high-volume, lower-margin fleet sales.
Combined Nissan and Infiniti U.S. sales rose 9 percent to 95,698 vehicles in April. Nissan Division delivered the positive momentum, selling 87,207 vehicles, up 11 percent from April 2018. Infiniti sales continued to slide, falling 5.2 percent to 8,491 vehicles last month.
After consecutive monthly sales declines this year, the bleeding at Nissan Division is showing signs of slowing. January sales were down 20 percent, February sales fell 11 percent, and March sales were down 5.3 percent.
"Sustainable retail growth was our plan, and it hasn't changed," said Billy Hayes, division vice president for Nissan sales. "Without pendulum swings in tactics, we've just been working this plan and being consistent and supporting dealer health, so they can take care of customers."
In a market heavily favoring crossovers, SUVs and pickups, Nissan's light-truck sales grew 14 percent last month, compared with the same period a year ago. For the year, truck sales were down 7.3 percent.
The Rogue crossover, its truck volume leader, increased 3.5 percent in April.
The Pathfinder saw the biggest surge of any Nissan model, up 72 percent, fueled by the recently launched Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition.
"That's really spiced up the Pathfinder," Hayes said. "It's a great value, if you look at what you get for what's on the sticker, in terms of package savings."
Titan full-size pickup sales were down 6.8 percent in April.
"It's an extremely competitive segment," Hayes said, noting Nissan is rolling out additional marketing and incentive support for the model as part of Red Tag events in most parts of the country, starting this month.
On the sedan side, the Altima saw a 59 percent spike in sales last month.
Two months ago, Nissan launched a consumer incentive program that combines a special APR with customer cash that has resonated with consumers, Hayes said.
"Almost 50 percent of Altima sales were sold through this APR-plus-cash program" after it was introduced, he said.