SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co (7201.T) expects its U.S. sales to rebound this year after their sharpest fall in 15 years, buoyed by a broad array of new products, such as a compact crossover utility and a sport-utility pickup truck, the head of the Japanese automaker’s U.S. operations said on Friday.
A logo of Nissan Motor Co is pictured at its Tokyo headquarters December 6, 2014. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo
Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) and Nissan both saw U.S. vehicle sales taper in 2018 after years of strong growth in a market first hit by the Great Recession and which has become a bellwether for global sales trends.
“Things in 2020 will look so different than they do today,” said Mark Adams, head of Nissan in the United States, in an interview with Reuters at a media briefing at Nissan’s San Francisco headquarters.
In recent years, sales have been flat for all automakers in the United States. A sharp decline in interest rates is expected to revitalize auto sales in 2019, a trend Nissan forecasts to continue in 2020, Adams said.
Nissan sold 176,000 vehicles in the United States in 2018, its steepest U.S. decline since 2003.
Adams said Nissan has left three main U.S. vehicle segments unaddressed in response to the downturn.
The first, high-volume car segment with sedans as its core product line, saw last year sales of 5.9 million vehicles, a record high. Despite sluggish sales growth of low-volume cars and small SUVs, Nissan sales in the segment have risen steadily in recent years.
Nissan sold 506,000 vehicles in the high-volume market in 2018, more than double the 182,000 the company sold in 2012.
The second, low-volume segment that Nissan neglected until last year has sales of 360,000 vehicles a year, more than double the 166,000 Nissan sold in 2016. Nissan has focused on lower-volume and low-profit vehicles in this segment. Nissan sales fell 44 percent in this segment last year.
Nissan expects to sell 3.5 million vehicles in the United States in 2020, which would be roughly equal to the record sales in 2015 but a substantial decline from sales of 4.14 million vehicles sold in 2014.
He said Nissan has not completely closed the door on a full-scale alliance with Nissan’s biggest overseas market, Japan.