October 2014 was the US sales month with the lowest sales volume for the latest generation Nissan Quest since the van launched almost four years ago in January 2011.
Sales of minivans in America fell 2% in October 2014, but increased 5% this year. Quest volume plunged 54% in October. Quest sales are down 23% this year. No minivan sold less often than the Quest in October, not even the canceled Mazda 5.
So far this year, the Quest has been ahead of the Kia Sedona by a slim margin of 633 units, but that number will change quickly: the Sedona topped Quest sales by 2006 units in October thanks to the arrival of a brand new third generation model. .
Historically, Nissan has sold Quests in much greater numbers, but it has never been a mainstay of the MPV movement. When 46,430 Quest were sold in calendar year 2004, this represented only 4.2% of total minivan sales. (Nissan is unlikely to even sell 10,000 in 2014.) Quest market share in first ten months of 2014: 1.8%.
It’s too early to say that Nissan USA has abandoned the Quest. There is a MY2015 variant. Indeed, this 2015 model represents 38% of the current stock listed on Cars.com. But it’s not a product you’ll find in large numbers at Nissan showrooms across America.
North of the border, in Canada’s much stronger minivan market, the Quest was first moved to special order status and has since been removed from the company’s mainstream website. It’s not even mentioned in the company’s 2015 product plans.
Numbers? In the United States in October 2014, only 370 quests were sold, up from 812 in October 2013 and 395 in September of this year. Nissan has only hit four digits with the Quest three times this year after an average of 1073 monthly Quest sales in 2013, 1523 / month in 2012 and 1131 / month in the latter 83% of 2011.
The vast majority of automakers would really struggle to break into this category. It doesn’t seem like much difference that Nissan is a long-time gamer, perhaps because of the avant-garde styling of the last two iterations. Even in a month in which sales of the fifth-ranked van (Sedona) jumped 251% to 2,376 units, the top four held 92% of the segment, with Chrysler and Dodge seizing a just over half of all minivan sales.
The fourth gen Quest flopped, and now he’s kicked while lying flat on the mat. Is it the appearance; the difficult task of balancing weak demand with the need to increase supply if more volume is to be generated; the simple fact that it’s not a Grand Caravan, Town & Country, Sienna or Odyssey; or something else?
It’s not as if the Nissan brand as a whole is struggling to capture larger portions of the US market. Few brands with mainstream appeal are growing faster.
Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, who obsesses the free and frequent publication of auto sales figures in the United States and Canada.