The Covid-19 coronavirus has hit all automakers hard but Nissan in particular was already facing major issues before the pandemic struck, including declining sales, an aging lineup, and the fiasco surrounding the ouster of former chairman Carlos Ghosn.
Nissan's sales totaled 5,176,189 vehicles in 2019, which was down 8.4 percent on the 5,653,700 vehicles it sold in 2018.
The automaker also reported an operating loss of 40.5 billion yen (approximately $376 million) for the year ending March 31, compared to an operating profit of 318 billion yen the year before. It was the worst performance reported by Nissan since 2009 during the height of the global financial crisis.
To help turn things around, Nissan announced a four-year strategy Thursday that will see the automaker shrink its operations considerably. Among the key plans is a reduction in annual capacity by 20 percent to 5.4 million vehicles. At the same time the automaker wants its plants at 80 percent utilization. Plants in Indonesia and Spain will be shuttered as a result. The moves are expected to realize a reduction in fixed costs of approximately 300 billion yen.
Teaser for next Nissan Z sports car
Nissan will also scale back the number of models it offers globally from 69 at present to fewer than 55, though it still plans to introduce 12 new or updated models over the next 18 months. Among these will be redesigned versions of the Frontier, Rogue and Z sports car.
Nissan will also work more closely with alliance partners Renault and Mitsubishi on future vehicle development. As outlined on Wednesday, the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance plans to increase the sharing of technologies including whole vehicle platforms across the alliance.
Each alliance partner will also become a champion for specific markets, based on where they have key strengths. Renault will be the champion for Europe, Russia, South America and North Africa; Nissan will be the champion for North America, Japan and China; and Mitsubishi will be the champion for Southeast Asia and the Pacific. It doesn't mean partners won't compete in markets where they aren't champion, but it could mean their presence and lineups are scaled back.
There was no mention of Nissan's plans for Infiniti, though we know the luxury brand plans to introduce several new models in the coming years based on an electrified modular platform.