Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
After spending the last few years playing up the merits of zero-emission electric vehicles and knocking down the hybrid hype, the CEO of Nissan Motor appears to be back-pedalling, ever so slightly, on that stance.
The reason? Hybrids have become just too popular to ignore.
The trouble started when the Nikkei, Japan’s premier business daily, reported last month that Nissan was aiming to develop a hybrid system for small and mid-sized mass-market cars, with plans to roll one out in Japan in 2011.
If true, that would signal a change in course for Nissan, which has only announced plans so far to mount its in-house-developed hybrid system on high-end, rear-wheel-drive vehicles. The company declined to confirm or deny the report.
In this environment, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn can’t be blamed for warning today of a second straight year of loss. Still, there’s no denying that Japan’s third-biggest automaker could be doing better if it weren’t missing one key ingredient: home-run products.
Ten years ago today, French carmaker Renault bought a 37 percent stake in Nissan Motor for $5 billion, making a big bet in the debt-riddled Japanese company with the goal of one day becoming a major player in the global auto industry.
Ever since Nissan staged a spectacular turnaround in just two years, the Franco-Japanese union has been lauded as the only alliance that worked after many failed attempts by other automakers. The success story turned Carlos Ghosn, who has served as CEO of both companies since 2005, into one of the most celebrated and visible auto executives.