The Kicks Was Nissan's Biggest Bright Spot In 2019

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But the company still saw a massive sales dip last year.

Nissan Motor Co. ended the year weak in the US, with nationwide sales slipping by nearly a third in December compared to the same month in 2018. In a sales report, Nissan USA revealed that December sales were down 43,939 units - or 29.5 percent - year-over-year. Nissan's namesake vehicle brand saw a decline of 28.4 percent for the month, versus a 37.8 percent decline for its lower-volume premium Infiniti brand.

The month capped off a downturn year for the Japanese automaker in the US, as total company sales slid by 9.9 percent for the full year, the Nissan brand seeing an 8.7-percent drop and Infiniti sales sliding by 21.1 percent.

2018-2020 Nissan Kicks Front Angle View Nissan
2019-2020 Nissan Altima Front Angle View Nissan

Nissan's US sales performance in December marks a significant downturn even from the prior month, when total Nissan USA sales between both brands declined by 15.9 percent. Every passenger vehicle in the Nissan brand portfolio saw a decline in December, save for two: the Armada, which saw sales rise by a modest 3.2 percent to 2,967 units, and the Altima, which surged by 12.1 percent to 19,132 units.

The Nissan Altima was completely redesigned for the 2019 model year, gaining an available variable-compression turbo four-cylinder engine, or VC-turbo. The engine, which was named to Wards' 10 Best Engines list for 2019, is also available in the Infiniti QX50 crossover (though it couldn't help the QX50's sales numbers).

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Despite the Altima's December 2019 rally, the model essentially sold no better over the full year than it did in 2018, moving just 37 more units last year. In terms of volume, the biggest contributors to the Nissan brand's US sales downturn were the Sentra, down 28,428 units, and the Rogue, which experienced a dramatic 61,663-unit decline in the US.

The tiny Nissan Kicks crossover represented a bright spot in the brand's portfolio, with sales surging by nearly 150 percent through the year to 58,193 units. Nissan was among the worst-performing auto stocks of 2019, the company's share value sliding by 27.7 percent over the course of the year as the legal drama surrounding its former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, continues to develop.

2018-2019 Nissan Kicks Front Angle View Nissan

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