As deliveries surged by 21.5 percent, the Nissan division sold 76,754 units last month, setting an all-time volume record for November—and surpassing sales at Honda in the process. The brand’s results were well balanced, too, with nearly every vehicle in the lineup reporting sales gains.
Leading the way was the Nissan Versa, which set a November sales record of its own. Buoyed by the all-new sedan model—still the least-expensive car in the U.S.—the Versa rang up 9,291 deliveries last month, good for a 38.2 percent increase and the most of any subcompact in America. To put the Versa’s performance in context, no other car in its segment topped 6,000 deliveries, while sales of the rival Ford Fiesta and Chevy Sonic stood at 3,552 units and 4,496 units, respectively.
Also achieving a November sales record were the Nissan Altima and Nissan Rogue. Dealers moved some 20,613 Altimas in the prior month, a 12.2 percent improvement over November 2010. It was enough to make Nissan’s mid-size sedan the second-best-selling car in America last month and the fifth-best-selling vehicle of any kind. As for the Rogue, the small crossover had a fairly big month, reaping a 27.2 percent sales gain on a volume of 10,845 units. In fact, every single model on the truck side of the business grew sales in November, ranging from a 2.2 percent bump for the Nissan Armada to a robust increase of 37.8 percent for the Nissan Frontier.
Further performances of note for the Nissan lineup:
• Nissan Sentra, +35.3 percent
• Nissan Maxima, +13.2 percent
• Nissan Pathfinder, +26.3 percent
• Nissan Titan, +19.9 percent
There was a particular trouble spot for the division, though. The Nissan Juke, still a relatively fresh model that went on sale late last year, suffered a 25.5 percent sales decline in November. (Note: Nissan considers the Juke a “car” for sales-reporting purposes.) The brand has tried to push ye olde design envelope in this country a number of times in the past, with entries like the Nissan Cube and the third-generation Nissan Quest, only to have them rejected by consumers after a first flurry of excitement. At this stage, Nissan has abandoned the Cube entirely, selling just 203 last month, and the all-new Quest, with a relatively radical design for a minivan, has struggled to sell 10,425 units since going on sale near the beginning of this year; the Dodge Grand Caravan has sold nearly 10 times that many units through November.
The performance of the Nissan Leaf fits this pattern, too. It jumped out of the gate by consistently outselling the Chevrolet Volt earlier in the year, but the situation has now reversed itself; the Chevy again handily outsold the Leaf in November, and I don’t think the hubbub over potential Volt battery fires is going to change things.
And while that may not seem to bode well for Nissan’s “Innovation for All” initiative, it doesn’t seem to have fazed Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager of Nissan Sales, who said that: “Strong gains across our lineup extended Nissan’s record-breaking October into our best-ever November. We expect to finish 2011 on a high note with vehicles like Altima, Versa, Sentra and Rogue leading Nissan to a strong close in December and into an even better 2012.”