Nissan NA Sales Boss Tries to Defibrillate Sentra Sales

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Nissan's freshly-minted North American sales chief reckons it's time to address the English patient in the automaker's model line: the Sentra. Mark McNabb tells Wardsauto that he's trying to figure out why, why dear lord, Sentra's sales are on a slippery slope to nowhere. And no wonder; year-to-date sales of the refreshed model are down 10.9 percent to 91,463 units. Helpfully enough, Wards' suggest that the Sentra falls between two stools (so to speak). They report that U.S. compact car sales (e.g. Nissan Sentra) are down 4.3 percent, while sub-compact sales (e.g. Nissan Versa) have increased by a whopping 37.3 percent. Is the Versa– up 364.3 percent in the first 10 months to 67,688 units– cannibalizing the Sentra? McNabb doesn't know and doesn't really seem to care. "He says his first priority with the Sentra will be 'to make sure dealers are engaged with the vehicle.'" Nissan dealers actively await McNabb's wedding plans. “There’s a big market here for that car," says Walter Dolan, senior sales consultant at Pinnacle Nissan in Scottsdale, AZ. "But we’re not seeing a lot of support behind the car coming out of Nissan." Rsponding to the crticism, McNabb promises to see “if there’s something [in Sentra advertising] we can tweak to get the car going a little bit stronger.” Anyway, it may be a big problem, but it's not a major concern. “It’s definitely, from a profit standpoint, not that bad,” McNabb said. Definitely.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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4 of 21 comments
  • Jthorner Jthorner on Nov 22, 2007

    If you want vanilla, you buy a Corolla. If you want chocolate, you buy a Civic. Between those two flavors the majority of the segment is covered. The rest of the flavors fight for what is left. Mazda 3 is an interesting choice for someone who wants something different and the Jetta/Rabbit/GTi are even more so. Hyundai is for the I just want it cheaper crowd. Where does that leave Sentra, not to mention Cobalt and Focus?

  • Steven Lang Steven Lang on Nov 22, 2007

    I don't know about that. The Corolla and Civic have more or less served as an 'automatic choice' in this segment for those who want a reliable and don't want to put too much thought into alternatives. I've always thought the Mazda, VW, and Hyundai (especially the GT) represented the more chocolate flavor to the Toyonda's mostly vanilla line-up. The Sentra has lost it's way. From a semi-sporty vehicle in the late 80's and mid-90's to a meaningless bland blob of a jellybean.

  • Mrcknievel Mrcknievel on Nov 22, 2007

    I think it's utterly amazing that compact sedans that aren't from luxury lines are selling all that well in any form these days. The subcompact market has shed the penalty box image in a big way and rising gas prices have transformed "your daughter's first car" into "my daily driver"...if you want to save gas you can do it in a Fit, Versa, etc. and save a lil coin to buy something "fun" for weekends, etc. If you're going to a smaller vehicle to be more practical, the gas sipping lil hatchbacks make more sense anyway IMO. The Sentra is a tweener car now..and tweener cars = Jan Brady. Happy Turkey Day folks.

  • Ricky Spanish Ricky Spanish on Nov 26, 2007

    I used to sell Nissans and Mazdas I could not in good conscience sell the Sentra to ANYONE, much less when I had the sublime Mazda3 on my lot right next to it. It truly is a miserable piece of crap car.