Ghosn may be gone, but Nissan still rolling along

Photo: REUTERS file

The Nov 19, 2018 arrest of Nissan Motor's top executive, Carlos Ghosn, on a litany of charges of financial wrongdoing, dominated the news headlines for most of 2019. The Brazilian-French-Lebanese was to spend a total of 108 days in jail before being allowed out on bail of 1 billion yen. 

Then on Dec 29, 2019, Ghosn, with assistance from several paid operatives, gave his watchers the slip, being spirited away from his Tokyo residence and making his way to Kansai International Airport, where he fled the country aboard a Turkish-registered private jet. He has since taken up residence in Lebanon, where he holds citizenship, and which does not have an extradition agreement with Japan. 

Ghosn had a reputation as something of a miracle worker, and Nissan, at the time of his arrival in 1999, was certainly in need of a miracle. Following the merger of French automaker Renault with Nissan that same year -- in which time Renault acquired a 36.8% share of Japan's number-two automaker -- Ghosn moved to Tokyo to assume the post of CEO. He ruthlessly cut costs, shutting down five plants and dismissing over 20,000 workers -- but brought the company back to profitability and reached all the goals of the company's revival plan within the projected three years. 

Under his direction the company was to pioneer the Leaf, an electric vehicle that has enjoyed strong demand. Nissan also acquired a 34% share of Mitsubishi Motors. 

The airing of his Ghosn's alleged financial misdeeds and his "great escape" from justice humiliated Japan's legal authorities and constituted a major blow to Nissan's prestige. To add insult to injury, Shukan Jitsuwa (Dec 10) reports, the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic has also impacted severely on auto industry sales. According to the report of consolidated earnings for the first half of the 2020 business year (April-September), Nissan's global sales had declined by 38.2%, and the company posted an overall deficit. 

Nevertheless, sales during the second quarter (July-September) managed an uptick from the disastrous first quarter, and the performance forecast was revised to give a less gloomy picture. When Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida, moreover, announced the company expected to return to profitability in 2021, the value of Nissan shares posted a healthy increase. 

"UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the target date for phasing out gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles would be moved forward to 2030," a motor industry trade journalist tells the magazine. "In the U.S., the new Biden administration is also expected to encourage sales of EVs, and this will put Nissan, a specialist in electric models, in a better position worldwide." 

In Japan, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has also been calling for reductions in carbon emissions, which should give Nissan models an added boost in domestic sales. As the world's third largest producer of motor vehicles, Japan's recovery should also undo the stigma of the Ghosn scandal. 

One thing holding back demand, the aforementioned journalist notes, is that many of Nissan's current domestic models date back about 10 years from their initial launches, and are continuing to be produced with only minor changes. 

"They can't compete with Toyota," he says. "But looking at the company worldwide, Nissan has numerous models sold only in foreign markets, and some of them may have greater appeal than the ones it's now selling in Japan. I can't figure out why Nissan doesn't sell them here." 

Nissan may be reluctant to market certain foreign models here due to such factors as their size, suitability to Japanese road conditions and the costs of shipping to Japan, among others. But if there's anything Nissan needs right now, the writer concludes, it's solutions that come from thinking outside the box.

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Nissan will never get my money-they are doomed!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ghosn may be gone, but Nissan is still rolling along a path of destruction.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Nissan has made it's bed, Nissan must lie on it

Japan's prosecutors have made Japans's bed, Japan must lie on it.

Integrity lost.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Save a company and know how or save jobs?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nissan makes high quality boring cars that do not excite anyone. And they have no brand identity. When I think Toyota, I think "never breaks". When I think Mazda, I think "fun to drive." When I think Nissan, I think "二か?、三か?" They are the vanilla ice cream of automobiles.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Thank you for a meaningless, data-free article.

Yet another article on JT today says Nissan sales are off 15% from last year while it seems every other Japanese auto maker enjoyed at least a small increase in sales and a couple like Suzuki showed a double digit increase in sales.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I totally understand the desire for Nissan to remain under Japanese control, however the way the went about it was totally unacceptable, corrupt, & has & will continue to embarrass Japan, it's legal system, & Nissan for decades to come. This will only become worse the longer this charade with Greg Kelly etc, as well as the ongoing futile pursuit of Ghosn.

"Biden administration" - come on! It doesn't exist yet if ever. You just further degraded this already struggling article with U.S. leftist propaganda - Goebbels would be proud!

Nissan just needs to cease making false accusations & embarrassing themselves & Japan, & start making great cars again like they used to in the late 80s & 90s.

Wake up Nissan!

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Japan has too many automakers.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@albaleoToday 06:23 pm JST

Yes, you're right, it's "officially" a credit.

Japan’s state-owned export credit agency has agreed to give Nissan Motor Co up to $2 billion

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Japan gave Nissan $1bn cash this September, $2bn this month, and will soon give $2.1bn more within this year.

Can you clarify? I understand the Japanese government agreed to guarantee loans taken out by Nissan. Not quite the same as "giving".

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The airing of his Ghosn's alleged financial misdeeds and his "great escape" from justice humiliated Japan's legal authorities and constituted a major blow to Nissan's prestige.

The above makes the article a total opinion piece. So in response I say that the arrest highlighted the faults in the Japanese Justice System and prosecutors stubbornly denying that anything is wrong with the system humiliated themselves. His Great Escape was justified by the human rights workers group when they found that the Japanese Government infringed on his human rights.

The way Nissan executives set Ghosn up and ousted him caused Nissan to lose any prestige they had. Not due to his arrest or escape.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Nissan is sadly but politely giving up market share without a fight. The only thing rolling at Nissan is their losses. Begging for monies is not the road to the top and not selling models that are in constant demand is not anyone's winning formula...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Facts below, now the reader can take his own conclusions:

Japan gave Nissan $1bn cash this September, $2bn this month, and will soon give $2.1bn more within this year.

Nissan has been cutting looses that forecast $3.2bn in cuts by March 2021.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

My best wishes for Nissan, try to recapture us markets share again and reverse sales decrease, also target European sales increase again with new launches, Go.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Thank you for a meaningless, data-free article.

20 ( +20 / -0 )

I'd say Nissan is chugging along, soon Tesla will capture the UK market and Nissan wheels will fall off

12 ( +12 / -0 )

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