A shift in focus from market share to profit, coupled with new retailer-friendly policies, has propelled Nissan from industry laggard to middle of the pack in a key dealer survey.
The Nissan brand ranked 15 out of 32 in the latest National Automobile Dealers Association Dealer Attitude Survey — an industry insider's measure of how auto retailers feel about their franchise.
The 10-place surge from a year ago is a promising sign for the Japanese brand that until recently faced rebellious retailers fed up with its high-pressure sales program.
Nissan is "changing the conversation," U.S. sales chief Judy Wheeler told Automotive News last week.
"We're not pushing wholesale with our dealers," Wheeler said. "Instead, we're working with our dealers on: how do we help them run their business better; how do we engage better with customers; how do we use our e-commerce platform to touch the customer wherever they are in the buying process?"
The uptick in dealer sentiment comes as Nissan executes a business and product reboot. The automaker has backed off a market-share-at-all-costs retail strategy favored by former Chairman Carlos Ghosn, shifting to one focused more on profitability.
Tight inventories resulting from the global semiconductor shortage, meanwhile, have lifted dealer spirits and bottom lines.
"Dealer profitability drives dealer sentiment," said Tyler Slade, vice chairman of the Nissan National Dealer Advisory Board. "This record increase in NADA survey results for Nissan is tied to the record increase in profit for Nissan dealers."