DETROIT, March 3 (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co said on Monday that its U.S. February sales rose 16 percent, which is expected to easily top the estimated gain of less than 1 percent for the auto industry.
Continued cold weather in the month probably kept many car shoppers away from dealers, analysts said. A poll of 34 analysts by Thomson Reuters showed expectations of a 0.3 percent increase over February sales last year.
The average incentive, a discount to entice consumers but which also eats into profit margins for auto companies, rose 5 percent to $2,633 per vehicle in February from a year earlier and was up 3.3 percent from January, according to TrueCar, an industry analyst and car-buying website.
Some of the heftiest incentives are being offered by the top two sellers in the U.S. market, General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co, for full-size pickup trucks. Ford posted incentives of $8,000 on the best-selling vehicle in the country, the F-150 pickup, and GM layered on incentives as high as $9,000 on its Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, according to internet listings from last week.
Nissan had its best February in the U.S. market on record, selling 115,600 vehicles. Sales rose 17 percent for its primary Nissan brand and gained 6 percent for its luxury Infiniti brand.
Fred Diaz, Nissan's senior vice president for U.S. sales, said February was the 11th month in the last 12 that the company set U.S. sales records.
Nissan's sales increase for February beat the expectations of eight of the nine analysts who gave forecasts for the company's performance.
GM is expected to show a decrease in February sales of 6 percent, according to 10 analysts polled by Reuters. Analysts on average also said sales would fall 6 percent at Ford from a year earlier, remain about even at Toyota Motor Corp and rise 8 percent at Chrysler, which is owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
Analysts forecast on average estimated Honda Motor Co sales for February would rise about 1 percent and that those of Hyundai Motor Co and Kia Motors Corp would be about even with last year.