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Nissan North America is chugging along, despite 2005 being one of the toughest years ever in the U.S. car business. The automaker says sales of its Nissan and luxury Infiniti brands rose by 12% through October to 908,205 units vs. a year ago. Nissan President-CEO Carlos Ghosn cited the U.S. market this year as the biggest contributor to Nissan's global turnaround. When Nissan announced record global earnings for its fiscal year ended March 31, it revealed its 10% operating margin for the year, the industry's highest. Its strategy successes include:

* The discipline to develop cool, stylish-looking models that are fun to drive, with models and features aligned with American tastes. The company's Z coupe, which won numerous fans in the 1970s, then lost its way, is back and as strong as ever with a bold design and knockout colors.

* Standout, consistent, messages from TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif. The shop created a memorable graphic of two orange lines for Infiniti ads that resemble a form of Japanese calligraphy.

* Keep incentives low; Nissan's are about 60% of the industry's average, says Jed Connelly-senior VP-sales and for both brands

* Constant re-evaluations of business models with global sharing; the U.S. is studying how different media separately spark shopping and sales to improve buys.

* Building more cred for Nissan trucks with two teams in Championship Off-Road Racing.

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