Just as Ford Motor Co. dives into massive restructuring, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. CEO Carlos Ghosn tells an automotive conference in Dearborn, MI, that the second phase is under way for Japan's once-ailing No. 3 auto maker.

With a year remaining in the Nissan Revival Plan, Ghosn refers to the sequel as Nissan 180, which sets future growth targets from which the 180 figure is derived: 1 million more units sold globally in 2005 than in 2001, an 8% operating profit margin, and zero debt.

He says Nissan's ambitious product plan and new manufacturing capacity will help the auto maker boost vehicle sales by 1 million units.

“The first place to start is home, in Japan,” says Ghosn, acknowledging that the auto maker has borne witness to its market share slipping away in its domestic market. This year, however, it stabilized. The plan calls for 300,000 units of additional sales at home by 2005, on the assumption that the Japanese economy has seen its worst and will begin a recovery late next year.

The U.S. should pick up an additional 300,000 units of incremental sales in the same timeframe, boosted by new and revitalized product entries, he says. The lauded '02 Altima is the first of Nissan's North American entries to bear the stamp of the NRP.

Targets in Europe are more modest, with growth of 100,000 units by 2005 but a vow to return to profitability in the current fiscal year. The remaining 300,000 units should be gained in other overseas markets — most notably in China, where Nissan is seeking to strike a deal within the year with national auto maker Dongfeng Automotive Group.

The 8% operating margin, Ghosn says, would put the auto maker in top ranks globally. At the NRP's mid-point last September, Nissan reached a 6.3% operating margin.

Ghosn says that although becoming debt-free is a goal, it must not become a constraint and must be managed in a way that does not limit investment decisions.