Fri, Apr 06, 2012 - Page 10 News List

Strong yen forcing auto firms out of Japan: Ghosn


Renault-Nissan president and chief executive Carlos Ghosn has his microphone adjusted after introducing the new Nissan Altima at the New York International Auto Show at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York on Wednesday.

Photo: AFP

Even after some softening against the US dollar, the strong yen remains a “real headwind” for the growth of Japan-based automakers, Renault-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn said on Wednesday.

With the “yen [at] 82 from 76 ... I don’t call it a retreat; it is still a huge headwind for all the Japanese exporters,” Renault-Nissan Alliance chief executive Ghosn told a press briefing at this year’s New York International Auto Show.

Many of those Japanese companies are “moving production out of Japan,” Ghosn said.

Nissan is in the midst of moving production of its Leaf electric car to the US for the US market. That would help cut costs, Ghosn explained.

“The consumer should see the benefit of this,” he said, noting that plans were under way to have battery production start in Tennessee in August, to be followed by the cars.

European production for the Leaf will be based in Britain.

“We didn’t go very aggressively for the promotion of the Leaf,” he said, in part because it has not been sold nationwide in the US. “But the car will be available nationwide in July.”

The company is hoping to boost US sales to 20,000 units.

Nissan’s figures released on Tuesday show its US sales rose 12.5 percent last month compared with a year earlier to 136,317 units, or what the company calls “a record month in company history.”

Nissan held sixth place in the US auto market last month, beating Honda — whose sales fell 8.4 percent to 126,999 units — for the first time in the US.

Nissan controlled 9.7 percent of the US market last month, surpassing Honda’s 9 percent, according to the consulting firm Autodata.

General Motors posted figures showing it held 16.4 percent of the US market last month, compared with 15.9 percent for Ford, 14.5 percent for Toyota and 11.4 percent for Chrysler.

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