Nissan cuts prices on 7 US models with hopes of showing up in more Internet searches

DETROIT – Nissan is cutting prices on seven of its 18 models in the U.S., hoping its cars and trucks will show up in more Internet searches by shoppers.

The price cuts vary with the amount of equipment on each model. They run from 2.7 per cent, or $580, on the top-selling Altima midsize car to 10.7 per cent, or $4,400, on the Armada big SUV. Executives are under pressure to sell more cars, with Nissan’s CEO targeting a 10 per cent U.S. market share within three years.

Nissan is also cutting prices on the Sentra compact car, Juke small crossover SUV, Murano midsize crossover, Rogue small crossover and the Maxima full-size car.

Jose Munoz, Nissan senior vice-president of sales and marketing for the Americas, said the seven vehicles account for 65 per cent of Nissan’s U.S. sales. The sticker prices, he said, were higher than similar models from competitors, and that kept Nissan vehicles out of some Internet searches.

“In some of the customer searches we may not appear,” Munoz said. “We want to be considered by as many customers as possible.”

Nissan-Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn has set a goal of taking 10 per cent of U.S. sales by 2016 or sooner. In the first quarter, Nissan’s sales fell 1.3 per cent. Its share of the U.S. market was 8.6 per cent, according to Autodata Corp.

The company plans to reduce rebates and other discounts. Nissan is facing intense competition from U.S.-based automakers and its prime Japanese competitors, Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co.

Sales rebounded in April, rising 23 per cent, Nissan said Wednesday.

The price cuts are effective Friday for cars and trucks that aren’t yet on dealer lots. However Nissan will also make allowances to trim the prices of cars currently in dealer inventories. The cuts will remain in effect indefinitely.

Industry analysts say Nissan can afford the cuts because of efforts in Japan to weaken the yen against the dollar. That makes cars and parts made in Japan cheaper than goods made in the U.S. Nissan’s Munoz denied the weak yen influenced Nissan’s decision, saying that four of the seven affected models are built in North America.

Nissan builds about 75 per cent of its cars sold in the U.S. in North America. That should rise to 89 per cent by the end of next year when the company shifts production of the Rogue and Murano.

General Motors officials said they had no plans to match Nissan’s move. GM sales for April rose 11 per cent.

“We think based on our results we’ve got a pretty good formula,” said Kurt McNeil, GM’s U.S. sales chief. “And we’re not going to respond at this point to what could be … desperation. “

General Motors did have to resort to price-cutting earlier this year. It trimmed $300 to $770 off the sticker price of its slow-selling midsize Chevrolet Malibu.


AP Auto Writer Dee-Ann Durbin contributed to this report.