Nissan is still in "Year of the Truck" mode, drawing attention to the fresh crossovers and pickups coming to showrooms.
But even as it seeks sales of new Titan full-size pickup variations, a redesigned Armada large SUV, a freshened Pathfinder midsize crossover and new Rogue compact crossover models, the brand is still reaching out to environmentally minded consumers with electric cars and hybrids.
"Many consumers are looking for hybrid options," said Jeff Rosen, owner of Nissan stores in Milwaukee and Madison, Wis., and chairman of the Nissan National Dealer Advisory Board for his third year. "And as gas prices go up again -- and sooner or later they will -- the popularity of hybrids and zero-emission cars will be more prominent."
Nissan launched a hybrid version of the Rogue in late 2016. It was a surprising product move at first blush, considering that industry sales of alternative-power vehicles, including hybrids and electrics, declined 19 percent in 2016 from a year earlier.
At the time of the hybrid's unveiling, Nissan officials said the Rogue's niche is growing and the automaker wants to add variations to appeal to as many consumers as possible. Separately, Nissan will introduce a less expensive Rogue Select in 2017 that will target more price-sensitive customers.
Rosen said he also believes the electric Nissan Leaf has untapped opportunity, even as the market shifts to more truck and SUV sales.
"I think we'll see Nissan make that vehicle better and better in the coming years," he said. "I know a greater battery range is in the pipeline. Being able to drive a longer distance is important."
Leaf sales dropped 19 percent in 2016 from a year earlier, but they increased 41 percent in December.
Rosen said he had an eye-opening dealer experience with the Leaf in 2016. At Rosen Nissan, his longtime Nissan store in Milwaukee, the Leaf was never a big seller. But last summer, Rosen opened a Nissan store in Madison, a town dominated by the state university, startup tech companies and state government.
"We're a big seller there," he said of the Leaf. "It's amazing the traffic we get from the Leaf there. Madison is a very green-conscious market."
Rosen was struck by the difference in EV interest in two markets just 80 miles apart.
"It differs from area to area in the country," he said. "I think it will be a strong option moving forward."