Nissan is the latest carmaker to succumb to the effects of the global economic crisis, with the company announcing today its financial results for the third quarter of fiscal year 2008 and a massive round of job cuts. In the third quarter, the consolidated net loss after tax came to ¥83.2 billion ($0.81 billion), compared to net income of ¥132.2 billion ($1.28 billion) from the same period a year ago.

Globally, Nissan sold a total of 2,633,000 vehicles in the first three quarters of the year, down 3% compared with last year.

According to the company, the poor performance was driven by the severe downturn in the global economy in the second half of the financial year as well as the negative impact of the strong yen. The continuing economic conditions have also caused Nissan to forecast a net loss of ¥265 billion ($2.58 billion) for the full financial year – the first loss for the company in nine years.

The last time Nissan racked up an annual net loss was for the fiscal year ending March 2000, when it first formed an alliance with Renault and when Carlos Ghosn stepped in as CEO.

Speaking at today’s profit warning announcement, Ghosn said that priorities remain on “protecting free cash flow and taking swift, adequate and impactful actions to improve business performance.” One response already has been to cut 20,000 jobs, or 8.5% of Nissan’s global work force. Of the job cuts, 12,000 will be in Japan and the rest will be overseas.