December 4, 2017 / 7:54 PM / 13 days ago

Amid rising discounts, Nissan seeks 'fair share' of pie in U.S.: executive

(This version of the Dec. 4 story corrects and recasts paragraph 10 to show status of 2018 year model vehicles)

By Nick Carey

DETROIT (Reuters) - Facing a glut of late-model 2017 vehicles and rising consumer discounts by competitors, Nissan Motor Co Ltd (7201.T) will continue to target a “fair share of the pie” with big discounts of its own, the automaker’s U.S. sales chief said on Monday.

“It would be great if everybody got their incentive spending under control. That would be a fabulous thing for everyone,” Nissan’s Judy Wheeler told Reuters. “But the one thing about our business, you have to stay in the game.”

“The market is still very healthy and we want to make sure we’re still in the game,” she added.

Wheeler spoke to Reuters after Nissan posted an 18.1 percent spike in U.S. sales for November versus the same month in 2016.

Fellow automakers posted mixed new vehicle sales for the month.

Major automakers are coming off an all-time high for sales in 2016 and have been hiking consumer discounts in a saturated market to move passenger cars off dealer lots.

According to industry consultants J.D. Power and LMC, consumer discounts have been above 10 percent of the average transaction price for 16 of the last 17 months. Anything over 10 percent is considered unhealthy for resale values and thus bad news for carmakers.

Industry data for November provided to Reuters show only Honda Motor Co Ltd (7267.T) came in below that level at 7.6 percent. Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) offered discounts equivalent to 10.1 percent of the average transaction price, while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCHA.MI)(FCAU.N) was at 12.8 percent. General Motors Co (GM.N) was at 12.9 percent and Ford Motor Co (F.N) was at 14.6 percent.

    Nissan was well above the rest with an average discount of 18.6 percent.

    Wheeler said while Nissan now has 2018 model-year vehicles available in its U.S. dealer inventory, almost 100 percent of its sales in November were 2017 model-year vehicles and they may not all be gone until spring 2018.

    “That’s really hard to predict because the reality is we did extremely well in November,” she said. “If we continue at that kind of a pace, then it may be quicker than what we expected.”

    But Wheeler said the “big thing” affecting the auto industry is the high discounts being offered by most manufacturers.

    “So really, it has to do with what’s happening in the market and trying to make sure you get your fair share of the pie,” she said.

    Reporting by Nick Carey in Detroit; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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