Nissan Group's January sales took it on the chin in the name of reforming its past sales habits.
Without its usual reliance on fleet sales and incentives, the group's U.S. sales tumbled 19 percent to 100,741 cars and light trucks in January. Nissan Division sold 90,439 vehicles last month, down 20 percent from January 2018. Infiniti sales dipped 3.1 percent to 10,302 vehicles.
In a market heavily favoring crossovers and pickups, the Nissan brand took a hit in those segments as well. Its light-truck sales dropped 16 percent last month, compared with the same period a year ago. The brand suffered year-over-year sales losses in all light-truck models, except its Frontier midsize pickup and NV commercial van.
Billy Hayes, division vice president for Nissan regional operations in North America, said the sales drop is a symptom of Nissan's ongoing effort to reduce overall fleet sales while boosting its retail and commercial fleet business.
"We had a big fleet year last year, and that accounted for most of the difference in sales that you're seeing there," Hayes said. He declined to break out fleet and retail numbers.
Turning that business model will take time, Hayes cautioned.
"It's not an overnight process," he said. "We're in much better shape in terms of doing a healthy business, and dealer profits are coming back as well."