CEO Carlos Ghosn tells the Global Media Center at the Detroit auto show that Nissan is on the offensive with a 10% U.S. market share goal, and a record 2012 for the industry in sight.
Q1: Nissan is returning to the North American International Auto Show after a few years. What does this say about the state of the industry or the company’s outlook ahead?
CEO: The fact that we are returning today to the Detroit motor show means that we are on the offensive, The crisis that had been created by the collapse of Lehman Brothers in October 2008 is way behind us. We have erased most of the consequences of this as an industry. Now this industry is growing. We believe we can contribute a lot to its growth. And our presence today with a lot of innovation in Detroit means we are ready for what’s coming.
Q2: Ahead of a very large pipeline of products in the next few years, we are looking at the Pathfinder Concept and e-NV200 Concept cars. What are sales expectations for each?
CEO: In fact, these are concept cars, but they are concept cars that are very near the cars that will go to market. From time to time, we have concept cars that you never see, but they are just presenting some feature or trends. That’s not the case. The e-NV200 electric cars will come to market and the Pathfinder will be launched, and both of them will be very near what we are showing today in Detroit.
The year 2012 is going to be very important for us here in the United States, because we are going to have three major product launches, the most important one being the Altima. What we are showcasing today is the fact that we are ready for this product offensive, we’re going to have about 20 product events for the next 24 months, so we’re going to be extremely active, and frankly we are pursuing this milestone, which is very important for me, which is a 10% market share in the United States.
I’m very glad that in 2011 we were capable to hit 8.2% market share, which is good progress from the past. But, we still have to go to this milestone, which is going to be the base for the next way.
Q3: Just ahead of the Detroit Show, there was an engine production announcement involving Daimler. What can you tell us about the details?
CEO: The cooperation with Daimler is continuously developing. We started this a couple of years ago, we have already many projects that have been signed, some projects have been signed between Daimler and Renault, others between Nissan and Daimler. We started first concentrating our cooperation in Europe, and now we are extending it geographically.
This is an extremely important project because this is the first time in the United States we are doing something together. Using Decherd, our plant, to produce for Daimler, Nissan and Renault an engine, which is going to be common, is a great sign about what’s coming in the future.
We remain separate companies. We remain companies with different brands, different strategies, and different identities, but we are capable of doing things together without blurring identities, and this is a very strong start.
Q4: What headwinds still remain for the auto industry and Nissan such as the yen or Europe?
CEO: Unfortunately, I think the yen is going to continue to be a drag on Japanese carmakers including Nissan for the year 2012. We’re trying to, in a certain way, reduce the impact on us, and a lot of measures have been taken to reduce the reliance or dependence on the yen in 2012.
So, in a certain way, 2012 will be a little bit better than 2011, but we’re still far from from where we could be. I think overall 2012 is going to be another record year for the industry. This record year is going to made from different situations – you’re still going to have the BRICs growing, the United States growing. I think Japan will be moving up, but we must say also that the year 2011 has been a disaster for Japan, so we can only move up.
Europe is going to be a drag, I think Europe is going to be in decline, the market is going to be in decline, so overall we are going to see a situation with a different level of growth, a different dynamism, but overall Nissan is going to continue to grow within a market that will be growing, and Nissan’s global market share will continue to grow.