By on November 4, 2019

You have to hand it to Nissan. Despite holding a continually declining share of new-car sales in the U.S., the automaker is sticking to its plan to firm up its financial footing.

That means holding the line on incentives and fleet sales — a practice it once revelled in back when the company pushed volume above all else.

Nissan brand sales fell 3.7 percent, year over year, in October, and the Infiniti brand staged a repeat of a performance we’ve grown used to in 2019. Its sales fell 23 percent last month. Year to date, Nissan volume is down 6 percent, with Infiniti posting a 17.1-percent loss.

Sales started to tumble last year as the automaker, finding itself under increasing financial pressure, pulled a U-turn on its sales strategy. However, new model introductions didn’t fill the void. The redesigned Altima eked out a narrow YoY win last month, but the model — now available with all-wheel drive — is still down compared to this time last year. Infiniti’s new compact QX50 crossover flopped badly after its 2018 introduction; sales of that innovative vehicle fell 53.5 percent in October, with volume down some 20.9 percent since the start of the year.

On a YTD basis, the only vehicles in the Nissan fold to show any buoyancy are the flagship QX80 SUV (up 1.4 percent), the midsize QX60 crossover (up a scant 0.1 percent), and the subcompact Kicks (which has the mathematical benefit of being introduced in June 2018). Overall, Nissan Group sales are off 7 percent through the end of October. Making matters worse, the automaker’s average transaction price fell 1.1 percent last month, compared to a 2.7-percent increase for the industry.

As for incentives, Nissan hasn’t taken off the wet blanket. According to data from ALG, Nissan’s incentive spend per unit was down 3 percent last month, compared to an industry that saw incentive spend rise an average of 4.7 percent. That said, the dollar value of Nissan’s spiffing outranked the industry average ($4,196 versus $3,767). Nissan incentives rose 2.7 percent in September following a 4.9-percent decrease in August.

Leading the pack among incentive increases last month were Fiat Chrysler and General Motors (both up 11 percent) and Honda (up 10 percent).

[Image: Nissan]

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18 Comments on “As Nissan and Infiniti Sales Sink Yet Again, Automaker Continues to Shrink Incentives...”


  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I know interest in coupes have fallen to an all-time low but I really do like the Q60, especially in Red Sport and AWD trim.

    And for my next car I’ve been thinking of getting a Q50 for daily duties. Sure it’s the ahem “poor man’s” BMW but I would take Nissan engineering – twin turbos and all – over the Bavarian’s.

    Yes, their old 3.5 and 3.7L engines are gems but the horsepower wars must go on!

  • avatar
    Hummer

    The truck at top is a good looking truck, it’s almost refreshing compared to the over styled midsize entrants from Ford and Chevy.

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      Yes, this is a tidy looking truck .

      I wonder if they still make a decent single cab, 6′ bed fleet duty pickup truck with a 4 cylinder engine, AC & automatic ? .

      Maybe it’s time to go shopping at my local Datsun Dealer…

      -Nate

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        No single cab unfortunately, and the Auto trans adds $3k to the price. I’ve been in a recent 2017/18 truck and found it to have a nice easy to understand layout, a good composed ride and good amenities. At $18k for the base manual it’s not too bad

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    December will be a banner month for Pontia…err Nissan.

    They will announce 4k rebates and 3% for 75 months; all you need is a job, $139 down and proof of residence; a cell phone bill will do and you too can take delivery of an Altima, Kicks, or Murano AND if that doesn’t do it for you….NMAC no longer requires 5 verifiable references.

    I am curious though regarding the drop off in sales. Is their a way to disseminate the data in terms of fleet sales and retail deliveries? I would like to know if the through put at the dealerships has changed all that much or has the drop in sales directly correlated to Nissan not filling the National Rental car counter; which it seems is 50% nissan product now.

    • 0 avatar
      eggsalad

      If they offer a $4k rebate on the base Frontier, I’m there tomorrow :)

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I’m with egg salad, $4k off a Base frontier is a quick and easy way to get me in a dealer.

        • 0 avatar
          87 Morgan

          You are both not wrong. Of all the offerings that Nissan has, shockingly the Frontier is the only one that has long term value. The tooling was paid for a decade or more ago, they should be able to pump these out no problem.
          You can find nicely used rental ones all day long, as Nissan inundated the rental fleets with them. Which is weird, if they had discounted them retail to the price they sold them to the rental car Co’s I bet their would have been decent traffic at the Nissan store.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Versatility is expensive in 2019, my 99 Frontier has been very reliable outside of age induced issues (think rubber dry rotting). Say what you want about the current frontier but I’m not allergic to hard plastic and find the frontier to be an acceptable place to spend time.

            Granted my experience is more with the 4.0 V6, but at $14k with a good recently updated infotainment, standard cruise control and standard seating for 4, I would find the 4 cylinder hard to resist as an honest truck.

            This is the market that Ford once owned with the Ranger, Nissan has filled this position and their product is a solid offering.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            I have no problem with hard plastic in a truck either…so long as it is durable. The Frontier’s plastic scuffs if you look at it funny. The hose from a vacuum cleaner scuffed the console on my 2013 and the B pillar looked like the surface of the moon from the seatbelt buckle hitting it when it retracted. Mu fingernail gouged the surface of the A pillar trim when I was cleaning the windshield.

            I did monstaliner in the bed myself and remember my knees bending the metal of the bed floor as I crawled around in it. Additionally the red paint of the upper front facia didn’t match the body’s red (it was new so not a repaint). Lastly my F150 Super crew gets better mileage.

            Mine was a 2013, so at least the issues with the timing chain tensioners and Radiator Transmission Cooler were worked out.

            Having said all that, it was 23k out the door (mine was an S model) for a crew cab, 4.0 with an auto so I overlooked most of that, but make no mistake, it was priced right where it should have been. Great for the “I need a truck” and don’t care if at 35k miles it looks like it did 450k in Kandahar crowd. Also make no mistake, if you arent in that crowd every other midsized truck is probably a better buy even at the slightly higher cost.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            OOOOO ~ looky here : https://www.choosenissan.com/frontier/

            $20,000 base price before haggling ? .

            -Nate

  • avatar
    arj9084

    They were once the sporty to drive, more expensive than Honda Japanese brand. Then, they embraced CVTs for some insane reason. And dull/slow. Subaru drivers are happy as a lark with dull/slow, but that was an insane decision for Nissan/Infiniti.

    The old QX50/EX-whatever (J50) was miles better in terms of a luxury vehicle. The Altima-based Chicom/Mexico built new model is anything but exciting/an acceptable replacement, as sales have shown. Hopefully, something from the xmotion/ariya/imq concepts will manage to stimulate small SUV shoppers as something other than just a boring CVT 2.0 turbo suv from a smaller make, but priced higher than alternatives.

  • avatar
    Fred

    If I could sell fewer cars and make money, I would prefer that compared to the alternative. I’m not sure Nissan is doing that, but it’s a good goal. Then you can concentrate on engineering and quality and be better prepared for the future. Not that I think Nissan is doing any of that.

  • avatar
    sckid213

    Does anyone have any theories on why the QX50 is such a flop? I’ve only seen two here in Los Angeles, and a commenter on another site said he’s seeing blowout leases of $299/mo offered in San Diego.

    The QX50 looks fine (not ugly), interior is actually pretty nice, price is right at $299, Infiniti stores are usually at least a bit “upscale”…does the QX50 drive so poorly that even “normal” people hate the way it drives? Is it because nobody knows of its existence, and when they see an ad while car shopping online, see the bad reviews?

    I can’t figure it out. The QX50 is the posterchild for “just build a crossover and it will sell” not being true all the time.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I think it’s more about the Infiniti brand than the QX50 specifically. It’s picked up a Jersey Shore connotation from so many fart-canned G37s. This class is all about showing your coworkers and neighbors that you can Afford A Luxury Car, and a BMW or Mercedes badge (or even a Lexus or Volvo badge) is much better for that purpose.

    • 0 avatar
      cbrworm

      I think that they replaced a fun 300HP RWD CUV with a better looking, but not particularly fun FWD 4 cylinder CUV with unproven technology. It probably also has a CVT. Infiniti used to be a decent performance platform at a reasonable cost, which, aside from the Z and GTR, was not available from Nissan. Now, the QX series is mostly a moderately nicer Nissan. It used to not matter that the interior wasn’t great and the engine wasn’t smooth because the performance per dollar made up the difference. Now, the interior matters, at least partially, because they have moved away from performance and raised the prices.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Nissan added dealerships. Increased fleet sales. Increased incentives in the most offensive manner to dealerships, the dreaded stairsteps.
    Dealership profit and loss statements tilted to loss. Dealership valuations plummetted at the same time as Nissan demanded facility investments.
    So what does Nissan do? Nissan is the most likely to terminate franchise and send default letters. Corporate is not cultivating a happy relationship.
    Perhaps this will all change for the better. There is a monumental shift in culture in the works at Nissan.

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