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Honda Exec: Nissan Inflates Monthly Numbers with Fleet Sales

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 4/2/2015 Kelly Pleskot

Automakers take sales very seriously, so it's no wonder that a few feathers get ruffled every so often from all of the competition to be on top. Honda exec John Mendel had quite a mouthful to say about Nissan's sales strategy to reporters on the showroom floor of the New York auto show, calling "bulls---" on the brand's fellow Japanese automaker.

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"I don't really give a damn about Nissan. I really don't," said Honda's executive president of automobile operations at a roundtable with reporters during the New York show. "I'm really tired of going to their press conferences and hearing Honda 15 times. I'm flattered but they don't do the business we do. They want to juice their business by 28 to 30 percent fleet every month. That's their business but then don't compare it to individual customers who pay their own money for individual cars."

In the past, Honda has limited fleet sales in favor of retail sales. The automaker said its Honda Division sold 111,623 vehicles in the U.S. last month. Meanwhile, Nissan reported selling 132,560 units in its Nissan Division for its "second-best-ever U.S. sales month."

Regarding Nissan's fleet sales, Mendel added, "They can do that. I don't care. But then don't come up and rattle the cage and say, 'Hey we're number one selling.' Bulls---."

2015 Nissan Altima© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Nissan Altima

The exec also suggested that other companies have approached Honda about rental fleet sales to increase numbers. "They have a whole systematic group of people who go into the dealers on the 20th of the month based on what Nissan needs to beat Honda and forces the dealer to put an additional 10 or 15 rental cars in service," he said.

Meanwhile, Nissan has crafted a response to Honda's claims. "The wide majority of our growth has been due to retail sales gains, not fleet," Nissan spokesman David Reuter told The Detroit News. "In calendar year 2014 our incentive spend was down 10 percent and we remain significantly below the industry average for incentive spending." He said Nissan increased its retail volume by more than 100,000 units last year, and fleet sales represented less than 17 percent of total sales for Nissan.

Source: The Detroit News

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