NEW YORK –intends to capture 10% of the U.S. market, CEO Carlos Ghosn tells the National Automobile Dealers Assn./IHS Automotive Forum here.
“We're almost there,” he says. Ghosn is in town to attend the New York International Auto show that opens its doors to press previews tomorrow.
's current share is 9% and is being boosted by a new product blitz, Ghosn says. The auto maker will launch a fleet of new vehicles this year, including the ’13 Altima midsize sedan in July and the Sentra small car and Pathfinder SUV this fall.
The CEO’s goal for the-Nissan Alliance is to capture 10% of any market in which it sells vehicles, regardless of whether both brands are sold there or only one, he says.
Ghosn also says the resurrected Datsun brand will be launched in Indonesia and a few other markets in 2014.
Nissan has emerged strongly from the global crisis and the natural disasters in Japan last year, Ghosn says. “We recovered quickly,” and with more momentum. He attributes this to the resiliency of the Japanese people who dealt with both natural disasters and a skyrocketing yen last year.
“I recognize the challenge (caused by) the abnormal strength of the yen, because it hurts Nissan,” he says, while expressing confidence that the alliance partners can deal with this.
Ghosn predicts Nissan sales will climb 10% in the U.S. this year, where the overall light-vehicle market could hit 14.5 million units. But he cautions that auto makers cannot continue to sell vehicles powered by non-renewable fuels. With electric power, cars can become symbols of sustainability.
The 58-year-old international executive says 27,000 Nissan Leaf electric vehicles have been sold globally so far, with 90% of these conquest sales. The Leaf may be the most-powerful conquest vehicle in the industry, Ghosn brags. By July, the electric car will be available in the U.S. nationwide.
Ghosn promises three more EVs are on the way, but insists the U.S. industry will need government tax breaks to reach a 500,0000-unit milestone.
The government’s support of EVs is in its own national interest, Ghosn insists. Huge amounts of money are shipped abroad to buy petroleum today that could be vastly reduced with cars that conserve oil. “It's a no-brainer,” he says.
All markets have excess capacity today, Ghosn says, forecasting a weakening of auto makers that don't restructure. Some will lose their edge in five to 10 years, he warns. “It will be a drag on their potential.”
North America has made a new beginning, with Detroit much more competitive, Ghosn says. He sees that as a good thing because many suppliers would not have survived withoutand that would have threatened Japanese and other auto makers remaining viable here.