Even after killing its long-controversial stair-step dealer sales incentive program this month, Nissan is continuing with a volume-based program for full-size pickups that some retailers say favors high-volume stores.
Nissan is offering dealers cash incentives based on the number of Titan pickups they sell. Under the program that runs through May 3, stores can earn $2,500 or $4,000 — or nothing — per pickup depending on how many 2020 and 2021 Titans they sell.
Some retailers argue the incentive program is not fair because the volume targets are not adjusted for market size. The program favors major metro stores with large customer bases and penalizes rural dealerships, said a small-market Nissan dealer who asked not to be identified.
"There are markets like Las Vegas where you have about 700,000 people per Nissan store, and there's towns in America with 20,000 people," the retailer said.
The dealer said he cannot compete with big-city stores that can easily hit the sales objectives and earn the factory cash. With the available factory money, metro dealers have a lower wholesale cost, the source said. "I'd be losing $3,000 to $4,000 per truck to match their deal."
Nissan provides a bonus on the Titan to "help dealers compete with other, larger-volume brands and win sales in the full-size pickup segment," a company spokesman said.
The automaker has struggled to compete in large pickups. Titan sales last year dropped to 26,439, down by half from the 52,924 sold in 2017. At the end of last year, the Titan accounted for just 1.1 percent of the full-size pickup segment.
Nissan cannot compete with Ford and Chevy in full-size pickups unless it heavily incentivizes dealers, another retailer said. "This is the fuel that keeps the Titan moving off the lot," he said.