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Is Nissan’s Ghosn Ready to Retire?

Exec dropping hints - but would he vanish entirely?

by on Jun.25, 2012

Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn.

One of the auto industry’s most widely respected CEOs is sending signals that he might like to retire.  But those who wonder how Nissan and its alliance partner Renault would replace 58-year-old Carlos Ghosn there may be no need to worry immediately.

The Brazilian-born executive, who serves as chief executive for both Nissan and Renault, may be ready to step down, but only sometime during the upcoming 5-year business cycle, company officials caution.

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“Ghosn has said this is the last midterm plan he’ll commit to, meaning he may not stay here for the next midterm period,” Nissan spokesman Koji Okuda told the Bloomberg news service, adding that, “We need to prepare for his possible departure within a five-year period.

It is quite possible, several industry sources suggest, that Ghosn would not bow out entirely from the Euro-Asian alliance, which was created when Renault made a critical $6 billion investment in Nissan in 1999.

Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn shown with the Infiniti LE battery-car concept during the recent NY Auto Show.

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Battle of the Heavyweights: Can Nissan’s Altima Topple Toyota Camry?

Toyota chief insists, “It simply won’t happen.”

by on Jun.22, 2012

Toyota aims to maintain its lead in the midsize segment but faces tough competition.

In the automotive answer to a sumo title match, two Japanese automotive heavyweights are about to square off, Nissan declaring a throwdown against long-time rival Toyota for dominance in the crucial midsize car market.

The smaller of the two makers is betting its newly redesigned Altima can topple the long-time segment leader, the Toyota Camry.  But its rival is clearly not ready to cede dominance anytime soon, a senior Toyota official told TheDetroitBureau.com.

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“It simply won’t happen,” said Toyota brand boss Bob Carter when asked if Altima has a chance of winning the perennial midsize grudge match. At the end of 2012, he declared during an interview, “Camry will be the best-selling car in America for the 12th consecutive year.”

Not if Nissan has its say.  “We are expecting to compete at the top level, and we are going to take a shot at being number one in the segment,” said Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, during the debut of the new Altima at the New York Auto Show in April.

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Nissan Profits More Than Double as Sales Hit Record

Overcoming “the headwinds.”

by on May.11, 2012

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn with the maker's new Altima sedan.

Nissan Motor Co., the Japanese automaker generally credited with staging the fastest recovery from last year’s earthquake and tsunami has underscored its rapid turnaround by reporting record sales for the 2011 fiscal year.

The maker reached an all-time record selling 4.8 million vehicles in 2011, with profits for the fiscal year that ended March 31 gaining 7%, to 341.1 billion yen.  But the big jump occurred during the final quarter of the 2011 fiscal year, Nissan profits more than doubling, to 75.3 billion yen, or $943 million, up from 30.8 billion yen a year ago.

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With production back to full speed after the disaster-led cuts of last year, Nissan is nothing but optimistic about the future, the maker forecasting further earnings gains on worldwide sales it expects to reach yet another record of 5.3 million for the 2012 fiscal year, which began on April 1. And it is predicting a 28% increase in earnings.

“As we start the new year, Nissan stands as a company re-tooled and ready to accelerate its growth,” said Carlos Ghosn, who serves as CEO of both Nissan and its global alliance partner Renault.

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Ghosn Sees Buyers Plugging Into Battery Power

But Leaf lags as Volt charges ahead.

by on Apr.04, 2012

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn remains confident battery-car sales will take off this decade.

They may little more than an asterisk on the sales charts, right now, but battery cars will account for as much as 10% of the market by 2020 – or so predicts Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, one of the industry’s most unabashed promoters of zero-emissions technology.

A little more than year after the launch of the Japanese maker’s battery-electric Leaf, sales appear to be lagging behind plans, the Nissan BEV, or battery-electric vehicle, generating just 579 sales in March – or barely half what it hit at peak last year.  That number – along with the weak performance by other electric vehicles has left many wondering whether the technology just doesn’t turn on consumers.

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Not Ghosn.  He remains as committed as ever, as he made clear during a keynote speech at a conference in New York City sponsored by consulting firm IHS and the National Automobile Dealers Association.  “Am I still bullish on electric vehicles? Yes,” he proclaimed.

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Nissan-Renault Alliance Sees Global Demand Surge

Global partners set new sales record for 2011.

by on Jan.11, 2012

Renault-Nissan Alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn sees partnership with Daimler heating up.

Despite the economic problems in Europe and concerns about a double-dip recession in the U.S., the Euro-Asian Renault-Nissan Alliance set a sales record in 2011, collectively marketing a total 8.03 million vehicles around the world, including 4.67 million vehicles for Nissan, 2.72 million for Renault, and 638,000 for AvtoVAZ, their Russian partner.

The Alliance achieved a 10.3% increase in volume from the 7.28 million vehicles sold across the Alliance in calendar-year 2010 despite an unusually harsh year, in which the auto industry faced the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the October flooding in Thailand, the abnormal strength of the yen and eurozone uncertainties.

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“Partnerships are key to regional growth and a key reason the Alliance achieved a new sales record,” said Carlos Ghosn, the Brazilian-born executive who serves as CEO for both Nissan and Renault.

The Japanese side of the alliance was a particular stand-out considering the disasters in Japan and subsequent flooding in Thailand.  In contrast to rivals Toyota and Honda, who struggled with product shortages until late in the year, Nissan was already nearing full-speed production by July. But it might not have gone so well.

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Nissan Forecasts Record Sales but Declining Profits

Maker likely least hurt by March disaster among major Japanese brands.

by on Jun.23, 2011

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, shown with a Nissan Leaf, forecasts an unexpectedly good year..

Like its major Japanese rivals, Toyota and Honda, the March 11 earthquake and tsunami will take a substantial toll on Nissan’s earnings for the current fiscal year, the maker forecast today – but Nissan officials also predicted that their company will experience another year of record sales despite a substantial cut in production in the weeks following that disaster.

Nissan’s strong reliance on overseas assembly plants – and suppliers outside Japan – helped minimize the impact of the disaster, the company has suggested, allowing it to resume production faster than those competitors, especially Toyota, which continues to base a large portion of its production operations in the home Japanese market.

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Nissan’s net profit is now projected to slip 15.4%, to ¥270 billion, or $3.4 billion, down from ¥319 billion in the previous fiscal year, which ended March 31.  On the other hand, revenues are expected to climb 7.1%, to ¥9.4 trillion.  The maker, meanwhile, said it would double its dividend to ¥20 per share this year.

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Nissan and Chrysler Scrap Three Vehicle Programs

Nissan scrambling for alternative for next-gen Titan pickup.

by on Aug.26, 2009

The Titan has never come close to hurting domestic pickup trucks.

Titan never hurt domestic pickup truck sales.

Chrysler and Nissan have decided to part ways, scrapping three joint-vehicle programs originally intended to fill yawning gaps in their respective line-ups.

“For the past several months, teams from both companies have been studying the viability of the projects in light of significant changes in business conditions since the projects were announced in January and April of 2008,” Chrysler said in a brief statement. “Today, it was decided it was in the best interests of both companies to end the projects,” it added.

With Nissan officials recently telling TheDetroitBureau.com they were still open to working with their Detroit counterpart, it appears that the announcement was heavily influenced by Chrysler’s new parent, the Italian automaker Fiat. It also appears Nissan is the loser in the latest developments.

Chrysler has already been selling a version of the Nissan Versa through some of its Latin American retail outlets.  And it was originally expected to add another Nissan-based small car to its line-up, next year, in a bid to expand its global presence. Chrysler’s need for both small vehicles was eliminated by its merger with Fiat, which also sells a full-line of small cars around the world.

For the Japanese maker’s product portfolio, its erstwhile collaborator was expected to provide a rebadged and redesigned version of the Dodge Ram pickup truck as a replacement for the slow-selling, loss making Nissan Titan.  The Chrysler-based pickup was to reach Nissan showrooms, in the U.S., by 2011. Now Nissan dealers won’t have a pickup truck to sell.

That particular joint venture appeared to run into snags, according to Nissan’s truck chief, Larry Dominique, about the time it became clear that Chrysler would fall under the control of Fiat, post-bankruptcy.  Indeed, he suggested, during an interview with TheDetroitBureau.com, early this month, that Nissan couldn’t get any clear answer as to Chrysler’s plans – no surprise, suggested other sources, considering the turmoil at the troubled American automaker.

Actually it looks like the vehicle-sharing project was put on hold almost as soon as it started after Renault/Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn expressed reservations about the plan when Chrysler began to run into serious financial problems last fall. Chrysler’s financial difficulties wound up with the company filing for bankruptcy on April 30. After Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy in June, Fiat gained effective management control of the U.S. car maker and has been pressing ahead with a complete overhaul of its operations.

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First Look: Nissan LEAF Battery-Electric Vehicle

Automaker unveils what could be first in a proposed electric vehicle fleet.

by on Aug.02, 2009

Nissan plans to put the Leaf battery car into limited production in a year, and begin retail sales in 2012.

Nissan plans to put the Leaf battery car into limited production in a year, and begin retail sales in 2012.

Nissan is hoping to turn a new Leaf. The automaker this weekend pulled the wraps off its long-promised battery vehicle, a product the Japanese manufacturer hopes will put it in the forefront of the industry’s push for cleaner, more fuel-efficient automobiles.

While Nissan is by no means the only automaker pushing for “electrification” of the car, the maker has been racing to form an array of government and private partnerships that it believes will help it turn battery power into a commercially viable concept faster than competitors like Toyota, General Motors or Honda.

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Dubbed Leaf, Nissan’s 5-door hatchback is roughly the same size as the gasoline-powered Tiida – which it markets in the U.S. as the Versa.  In current configuration, the battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, is expected to deliver about 100 miles per charge, though company insiders tell TheDetroitBureau.com that their mid to long-term goal is to bring range up to 200, and perhaps even 250 miles as lithium-ion battery technology continues to improve.

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