NASHVILLE –North America Inc. says it is looking for more capacity for its new Versa subcompact, as sales are stronger than anticipated.
“I think it was after two months’ sales we had a 13-day supply in inventory, and I thought, ‘Wow, I don’t know whether we’re going to be able to get more efficient than that.’ And the very next month we had a 6-day supply in dealer inventory,” Brad Bradshaw, NNA senior vice president-sales and marketing, tells Ward’s here in an interview.
A spokeswoman saysis looking to build some Versas at its Cuernavaca, Mexico, plant. The Versa currently is assembled for the U.S. at Nissan’s other Mexican plant in Aguascalientes.
Through September total Nissan production was up 8.4% to 171,175 units at Aguascalientes, according to Ward’s data. Cuernavaca output rose 5.5% to 86,839 units in the same period. To date, Nissan has built 26,507 Versas in Mexico.
Bradshaw says the Versa has benefited from this year’s debut of theFit and Yaris subcompacts.
“We’re getting a lot of cross-shopping, and in a lot of cases we’re winning that cross-shopping,” he says of buyers’ sudden interest in subcompacts.
Versa customers tend to span generations, with both younger people and empty nesters showing interest in the vehicle.
The hatchback body style is attracting younger buyers, while older consumers are more concerned about fuel efficiency, Bradshaw says.
The Versa is one of the few bright spots for Nissan this year. Although the brand’s sales are down 6.1% through September in the U.S., Versa deliveries have increased month-over-month since it went on sale in June.
To date, Nissan has sold 11,517 Versas, according to Ward’s data.
Bradshaw says Nissan expects the current monthly volume of 4,000 units to double once the sedan variant goes on sale in December.
Nissan originally predicted 60% of the sales mix would be sedans, based on Americans’ previous aversion to hatchbacks.
But now the ratio has flipped, with the auto maker calling for the hatchback to account for 60% of sales.
“A couple months before the launch, we started rethinking (the ratio) based on what’s happened in other markets worldwide,” Bradshaw says. “It may get even more rich in terms of hatchback, and we’re flexible enough to be able to do that.”
Bradshaw credits younger buyers for resurrecting the hatchback in the U.S., saying they don’t have “the baggage” older generations do when it comes to the body style.