Carlos Ghosn Says U.S. Sales Will Lag in 2008, and Renault-Nissan Still Wants North American Partner
Ghosn has not given up on a North American alliance
By Brendan Moore
In wide-ranging remarks on a variety of automotive subjects made at the opening of the Tokyo Auto Show, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn touched on the U.S. market by commenting that he thought the U.S. market would get tougher in 2008. Ghosn said economic forces would slow sales and that even lower prices through incentives will not be enough to bring sales up to a normal level.
Ghosn predicted that somewhere between 15.5 million and 16 million units will be sold in 2008. It is expected that approximately 16 million units will be sold by the end of 2007. Total sales in 2006 were around 16.5 million.
While on the subject of North America, Ghosn also reiterated his desire to add a North American third partner to the Renault-Nissan partnership. He said he remains open to such an arrangement and hopes to see it happen soon.
Total sales of Renault and Nissan combined were around 6 million vehicles last year – the company forecasts an increase to around 7.5 million vehicles annually within the next two years.
The Renault-Nissan partnership kicked off in March 1999 and is widely credited with saving Nissan from it’s-then precarious financial situation. The companies hold shares in each other, with Renault being the senior partner and the lead in strategy. Renault and Nissan share engineering and manufacturing resources as well as some sales operations, i.e., the red-hot Renault Logan is sold as the Nissan Aprio in Mexico since Renault is not a major player in Mexico. They also share information technology, technology enterprise platforms, and have a joint purchasing and vendor management organization.
In an interview in Frankfurt last month with the German publication Die Welt, Ghosn said out loud what everyone has come to realize lately; that is, that some established auto manufacturers in the West will soon be purchased by some brash newcomer from the East.
“I think that Chinese, Indian or Russian manufacturers will buy established automobile groups, or merge with them, or sign cooperative agreements,” Ghosn said. “It’s natural. China is going to become one of the biggest markets in the world and it is very likely that at least one Chinese manufacturer appears on the global market”
“There is no reason why an Indian automobile group should not play a global role” as well, Ghosn added.
It is believed that this likely future development is part of the sales pitch Ghosn uses to entice prospective partners in North America. In other words, join us now, or possibly be forced into a partnership later that that you may find much less desirable.
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