Following a 25 percent sales slump in the U.S. last year, Nissan Group began 2023 with a rebound as inventories improve and new product lifts consumer enthusiasm.
But rising inflation threatens consumer spending on big-ticket items such as cars and light trucks and could tap the brakes on the Japanese automaker's early momentum.
Nissan Group's U.S. deliveries rose 17 percent to 235,818 in the first quarter, ending a streak of six consecutive quarterly declines.
Sales of key crossover and utility models — Rogue, Pathfinder and Armada — improved significantly for the quarter.
The production plan for the year is solid for the Rogue, Altima and Sentra — core vehicles for the brand, Judy Wheeler, Nissan Division's vice president of U.S. sales told Automotive News.
But sales of the electric Ariya crossover suffered from production hiccups.
The high-demand all-wheel-drive Ariya variant "is just arriving in dealerships now, and we expect supply to continue to build as the year progresses," Wheeler said.
She also credited the first-quarter sales improvement to "the right model mix for customers facing rising interest rates."
Nissan's revamped product lineup "offers options where consumers don't have to feel as if they are sacrificing during an uncertain economy," Wheeler said, noting the 2023 Nissan Sentra's transaction price is about $800 below the segment average.
Brands: Nissan, up 16% in the first quarter; Infiniti, up 40%
Notable nameplates: Nissan Rogue, up 69%; Pathfinder, up 165%; Frontier, down 24%; Altima, down 14%; Infiniti QX60, up 182%; Infiniti QX50, down 32%; Infiniti Q50, down 44%.
Q1 U.S. light-vehicle market share: 6.6% vs. 6.1% in Q1 2022
Incentives: $2,130 for the quarter, up 15.2% from a year earlier, TrueCar says
Average transaction price: $37,857 for the quarter, up 12.3% from a year earlier, according to TrueCar
Fleet mix: 29.2%, 28,896 in March, per TrueCar
Did you know? About half of Ariya customers are new to the Nissan brand.