EU carmakers race to replace discredited diesel engines with something more palatable, and today’s flurry of electric car announcements at the Paris auto show are testament. Japan’s Nissan embarks on a pincer attack against diesel. Nissan leads world markets with its all-electric LEAF. Today however, the company showed something more conventional, and yet revolutionary, that might hasten diesel’s demise: An engine with all the power, but none of the NOx.
For more than two years, the Japanese auto industry profited from a cheap domestic currency, which translated foreign sales in to fat earnings at home. The party is over. This became clear today at 16:30 local, when Nissan put the last quarter earnings on the desks of reporters assembled at the company’s 8th floor meeting room of its Yokohama, Japan, headquarters. The company’s first-quarter net profit fell 10.7% year-on-year, operating profits in the same period were down 9.2%.
Today, journalists assembled in Yokohama, ready to be treated to spreadsheets, and Nissan’s annual financial report. At short notice, they were rerouted to a cramped meeting room two blocks down the road. They knew what was coming. Last night, Japan’s NHK TV station and the Nikkei financial wire reported rumors of a tie-up between Nissan and embattled Mitsubishi Motors. Today, that tie-up was formally announced.
Who is the world’s 4th-largest automaker after Toyota, Volkswagen, and GM? The stats say it’s Hyundai, but it is not true. For the past several years, the 4th-largest automaker has been the Renault-Nissan Alliance, and this year is no different.
|World’s Largest Automakers|
|12 Month 2015|
|Jan-Dec 2015||Jan-Dec 2014||YoY|
|Source: Company data.|
Yesterday, I sat down with Vincent Cobee, head of Datsun, to discuss his plans for Nissan’s decidedly non-upscale brand. In the middle of the discussion, Cobee mused that “Nissan has become the breeding ground for top management of luxury car makers.” And right he was. [Continue Reading]
Last Friday, a small, hand-picked group of journalists was allowed into Nissan’s holy technology grail, the Advanced Technology Center in Atsugi, a town in the mountains southwest of Tokyo. It was the first time that the secretive center opened its doors to nosy outside observers. Ostensibly, the occasion was the Nissan IDS Concept vehicle that goes on display today at the Tokyo Motor Show. Of course, nobody in his right mind allows journalists into a high-security tech center for a day, just to show off a silly concept car, and it quickly became clear that what we saw was the future Nissan LEAF in drag. It is a fair guess that large parts of the IDS Concept will be seen again when the 2nd generation Leaf arrives. Based on what we saw last Friday, here are a few educated predictions of what that new Leaf will look like. [Continue Reading]
It is Tuesday morning in Tokyo. Tomorrow, Wednesday, the Tokyo Motor Show will open its doors at the Big Sight in Odaiba to the media. Tonight, the always hungry and thirsty members of the Fifth Estate will be sedated with heavy doses of sake and tempura, administered all over town at dinner parties by the world’s (and especially Japan’s) big automakers. Those who are on the guest list of Volkswagen will suffer dry mouth and empty stomach. VW canceled its traditional auto show pre-party, a harbinger of lean times to come. [Continue Reading]
Nissan, first mover in the electric vehicle space, plans for a major EV inflection point in the 2019/2020 time-frame. By that date, two factors will cause EVs go mainstream, the company said today. [Continue Reading]