Nissan Reports Better Profit as Chip Crunch Eases

A Nissan showroom employee cleans a car
A staff of a Nissan car showroom in Tokyo wipes down a car. (Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press)

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TOKYO — Nissan reported a 55% jump in its October-December profit on Feb. 9, as the Japanese automaker gears up for a less-bumpy journey with its French alliance partner Renault.

Profit for the quarter at Yokohama-based Nissan Motor Co. totaled $386 million (50.6 billion yen), up from 32.7 billion yen in the previous year.

Quarterly sales surged 29% to $21 billion (2.8 trillion yen), as a shortage of computer chips that has bedeviled the world’s automakers gradually eased, according to Nissan.

The crunch was caused by pandemic-related disruptions that also hindered Nissan’s ability to deliver its vehicles to customers. Some buyers were waiting for a year for their Z sportscars or Ariya sport utility vehicles, said Nissan’s chief operating officer, Ashwani Gupta.

“We really don’t want our customers to wait this long,” he told reporters.

The rising cost of raw materials, inflation pressures and volatile exchange rates have added to the risks for the auto industry, including Nissan.

Nissan, maker of the Leaf electric car and Infiniti luxury models, now expects to sell 8% fewer vehicles for the full fiscal year through March than previously projected, at 3.4 million vehicles, because of the semiconductor supply shortages and the impact from the spread of coronavirus infections in China.

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Chief Executive Makoto Uchida acknowledged the quarter was extremely challenging, while expressing optimism for the future.

“The new models we introduced in each market have been very well received by customers,” he said.

Earlier in February, Nissan, with Renault and smaller Japanese carmaker Mitsubishi Motors, announced how they were redefining their mutual relationship. The boards of both companies approved equalizing the stake each automaker holds in the other to 15%, bringing a better balance to the alliance, according to an announcement in London.

Before, Renault Group, whose top shareholder is the French government, was holding 43.4% of Nissan while Nissan owned just 15% of Renault.

The automakers also vowed to cooperate in markets worldwide, including India and Latin America, while Nissan said it will invest up to 15% in Ampere, Renault’s electric vehicle and software entity in Europe.

Nissan has been eager to put behind it the 2018 arrest of Carlos Ghosn, a once-superstar executive who was sent in by Renault to save Nissan from bankruptcy in 1999, and successfully turned it around. Ghosn jumped bail and is now in Lebanon. He says he is innocent of financial misconduct charges. The scandal highlighted disgruntlement at Nissan over Ghosn’s perks and his power over the company.

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