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Nissan Won’t Wait for 2020 to Begin Rolling Out Autonomous Technologies, Says Ghosn

New study forecasts annual sales of 95 mil self-driving cars by 2035.

by on Jul.17, 2014

A prototype Nissan Leaf autonomous vehicle negotiates traffic at a simulated urban intersection.

Betting on huge demand from motorists in the world’s increasingly crowded mega-cities, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has laid out an aggressive timetable for bringing the maker’s autonomous vehicles to market.

Even before the first of those self-driving cars goes on sale in 2020, said Ghosn, Nissan will launch new technologies, such as automated lane controls and highway traffic management systems that will begin to supplement the driver behind the wheel.

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We're Not on Autopilot!

Nissan is aiming to take the lead in the development of autonomous technologies but is likely to face a battle as other automakers enter the field – as well as tech giant Google which will begin launching field tests this year of a new prototype self-driving vehicle it has developed. The race could find a willing public, according to a new study by Navigant Research forecasting annual sales of autonomous vehicles could reach 95 million by 2035.

“By the end of 2016, Nissan will make available the next two technologies under its autonomous drive strategy,” said Mr. Ghosn.

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Nissan, Daimler Power up their Growing Alliance

New Infiniti plant will also provide engines for Mercedes C-Class.

by on Jun.13, 2014

Infiniti's new Decherd plant will eventually have capacity to produce 250,000 engines annually.

The growing, three-way alliance between Nissan, Renault and Daimler is about to take a critical next step with opening later this month of an engine plant in Decherd, Tennessee.

Officially known as the Infiniti Decherd Powertrain Plant, the facility will serve not only the Nissan luxury brand but also provide engines for the Mercedes-Benz assembly line in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

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The three makers first agreed to work together in 2010, announcing a variety of projects that included joint vehicle development and a powertrain swap – the latter leading to the Decherd program. The factory will initially produce a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four that will be used in European versions of the Infiniti Q50 and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

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Strong Sales, Weak Yen Drive Up Nissan Earnings

China, Japan see strong surge in demand.

by on Feb.10, 2014

Strong demand for the Altima boosted U.S. sales.

Surging global sales, along with a weak Japanese yen, helped Nissan Motor Co. deliver a 57% increase in profits for the final quarter of 2013.

The second-largest Japanese maker earned 84.3 billion yen, or $823 million, for the October-December quarter, up from 53.8 billion yen the year before – but a fraction of the 525.4 billion yen, or $5.2 billion, in earnings announced by the industry giant Toyota Motor Co. last weak.

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Both makers, along with Japan’s third-largest automotive manufacturer Honda, have benefited significantly from last year’s plunge in the yen which averaged around 80 to the U.S. dollar during the final months of 2013, down from around 100 a year before.

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Toyota Takes Leap of Faith with 2015 Introduction of FCV

Production costs, infrastructure limitations bring out skeptics.

by on Dec.12, 2013

The Toyota FCV is already facing competition from Hyundai's fuel cell-powered Tucson.

Many immediately think of battery electrics when the topic of zero-emission vehicles crops up, further proving that fuel cell electric vehicles are the oft-forgotten stepchild of the segment; however, Toyota is confident it can turn the tide on fuel cells.

Confident enough that one of its top executives, Soichiro Okudaira, chief officer of research and development, recently predicted that FCEVs will “just one alternative of the eco cars” someday, according to a story in Automotive News.

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Actually, he predicted it would happen in 10 to 15 years which is when the pricing will come down to levels palatable to consumers. However, in the interim, Toyota believes there is a market for fuel cell-powered cars, despite it’s “too high for the mainstream” price. (more…)

Former Renault/Nissan Star Carlos Tavares Lands Peugeot’s Top Job

Faces major challenges at floundering French automaker.

by on Nov.27, 2013

Carlos Tavares, seen during his years at Renault/Nissan with a Nissan Leaf battery car.

Less than three months after falling from grace as the likely successor to Renault/Nissan Alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn, Carlos Tavares has resurfaced – and he won’t have to move very far, taking on a new assignment as the CEO of the troubled PSA Peugeot Citroen.

Considered one of the global auto industry’s rising stars, the 55-year-old Tavares had a potentially career-ruining flame-out in August when he announced during an interview that he’d like to leave his job as chief operating officer of Renault for a job as CEO of one of Detroit’s Big Three makers.  That didn’t sit well with his then-boss Ghosn who quickly gave Tavares his walking papers.

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Exactly why Tavares spoke out was unclear.  So was the potential fallout, some observers wondering if the Portugese-born executive was simply letting the world know he wanted a better job – others warned that Tavares might have made himself untouchable.  But it turns out his timing was close to perfect and his method far from madness.

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Nissan Likely to Expand Production in U.S.

But Mexico quickly becoming maker’s major export hub, says Ghosn.

by on Nov.13, 2013

Nissan CEO Ghosn dedicates the maker's new $2 billion plant in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

Despite spending billions to open new plants in both Brazil and Mexico, Nissan Motor Co. will continue investing in its U.S. automotive manufacturing operations, stressed the maker’s CEO.

But where plants in Tennessee and Mississippi will largely focus on local demand in the United States, Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn said Mexico is rapidly becoming not only its primary export hub in the Americas but likely will soon become a largest export base than Nissan plants back in Japan.

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“If you ask me if you will see future expansion in the United States for the U.S. market, the answer is yes,” said Ghosn during a media roundtable in Aguascalientes, Mexico, where he attended the formal dedication of Nissan’s new, $2 billion assembly complex.

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Ghosn Concedes Nissan/Renault Won’t Make EV Goals

Blames lack of infrastructure for missing 1.5-million vehicle target.

by on Nov.11, 2013

Renault-Nissan Alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn said he believes a lack of infrastructure is to blame for missing his target of selling 1.5-million electric vehicles.

Nissan/Renault won’t meet Chief Carlos Ghosn’s ambitious goal of selling 1.5 million electric vehicles by 2016. In fact, it will not even be close.

The Japanese/French automotive alliance will miss that target by more than 1 million vehicles as it has sold about 120,000 EVs, most of them Nissan Leafs. Ghosn now believes it will take much longer to reach the 1.5-million unit goal.

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“We will not be there. At the speed right now, I’m seeing it more four or five years later,” he said in an interview with Financial Times. During the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, Ghosn said he believed that EVs would account for 10% of all new vehicle sales at some point in the future with the right level of support from governments in China, the U.S. and Europe. (more…)

Renault-Nissan Alliance to Partner Up with Mitsubishi

Team of three may develop small car to sell globally.

by on Nov.05, 2013

Nissan/Renault is considering adding a third partner: Mitsubishi, according to Carlos Ghosn.

The long-running alliance between French automaker Renault and Japan’s Nissan could soon get a little bit larger as the partners explore a possible tie-up with another Japanese maker, Mitsubishi Motors.

The proposed alliance would cover a number of different product segments and include the development of new electric vehicles, an emerging market niche into which Renault and Nissan have already invested billions of dollars to develop and produce vehicles like the Leaf battery-electric vehicle.

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“Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors have jointly benefited from several collaborations in the past,” noted Carlos Ghosn, who serves as CEO at both Nissan and Renault. “I welcome the direction being taken towards this broader cooperation, creating new opportunities for Renault in addition to further leveraging the productive relationship between Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors.”   (more…)

Nissan Earnings Up – But Maker Cuts Forecast, Shakes Up Management

CEO Ghosn cites tougher market conditions.

by on Nov.01, 2013

"We take this very seriously," says CEO Ghosn.

Despite posting a 2% increase in its quarterly net profit, the mood was sour at Nissan Motor Co. Friday morning as CEO Carlos Ghosn cut the Japanese maker’s forecast for the year and reshuffled its leadership team.

Among those impacted by the management reorganization, Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga has been shuffled aside and appointed vice chairman while three other executives will now serve as co-COOs.

“Our slow performance required immediate action to be taken,” said Ghosn from Nissan’s headquarters in Yokohama. “We are really tightening. We take this very seriously.”

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The second-largest of the Japanese makers posted a 107.8 billion yen, or $1.1 billion, profit for the July – September period, the second quarter of its fiscal year. That was up just 2% from the 105.7 billion yen net posted a year earlier.  Quarterly sales, however, rose 16%, to 2.5 trillion yen, or $25.4 billion.

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Is There a Light at the End of the Tunnel for European Auto Industry?

Or is it another brush fire?

by on Sep.13, 2013

A crowd gathers at the Audi stand at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Automakers are hoping the big event will signal the end of Europe's worst car sales downturn in two decades.

With an estimated 70 all-new or significantly updated products and concept vehicles on display, the auto industry has big hopes for this month’s Frankfurt Motor Show – in itself a good sign considering the downright dour mood at other recent European auto shows.

It’s been a truly awful period for the Continental industry. Hammered by a devastating economic recession that came close to crushing the euro and even breaking up the European Union itself, car sales dipped to their lowest level in two decades during the first months of 2013.  But there have been signs of life this summer, particularly in the retail side of the market where not only are more customers returning to showrooms but they’re also spending more to opt up what they buy.

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“We’re about to see the end of five years of decline,” predicted Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of the Euro-Asian Renault-Nissan Alliance, during a news conference at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

His assessment was shared by a number of competitors. But while there’s a growing sense of light at the end of the tunnel, some skeptics continue to wonder whether what they’re really seeing is just another brushfire.

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