Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn with Leaf EV – Click above for high-res image gallery
Nissan President and CEO Carlos Ghosn announced earlier this week that his company is in a dominant position for the coming EV boom, remarking that the Leaf and the seven all-electric models from Renault-Nissan that follow it will be backed by battery production capacity for 500,000 EVs per year:
No other automaker will be producing electric batteries or cars at such a scale. And customers are ready. To date, 130,000 consumers in the US have registered their interest in buying a Nissan LEAF. With sales starting this December, 13,000 pre-orders have been submitted in just over one month in the US and Japan, largely driven by individual customer demand. This amount already surpasses our available production capacity for fiscal year 2010.
This seems like a reiteration of Ghosn's earlier statement of Nissan being ready to produce 500,000 batteries a year when demand, well, demanded it.
[Source: Nissan via Green Car Congress
Fiscal Year 2009 Financial Results Press conference
Carlos Ghosn, President and CEO, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
Toshiyuki Shiga, Chief Operating Officer, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
Fiscal year 2009 was an extremely challenging year. At no other time in history has the global automotive industry faced such threatening impacts from the financial crisis, widespread economic recession, a distressed supply base and volatile foreign exchange rates. Within Nissan, we have kept our focus on recovery, guided by our recovery plan. Though we are still operating in crisis mode, we are well on track toward complete recovery. At the close of fiscal year 2009, our consolidated net revenues reached 7.517 trillion yen. Full-year operating profits reached 311.6 billion yen, and net income amounted to 42.4 billion yen. Free cash flow for our auto business resulted in a positive 375.5 billion yen. As a result, net debt for the auto business was reduced to 29.7 billion yen, showing a significant improvement compared to last year's level of 387.9 billion yen. Our core business benefited from the launch of eight all-new models globally, and customers responded positively to our product offer. Consequently, Nissan maintained or increased its market share in Japan, Europe and the United States, and our sales in China increased substantially. As we managed through the financial crisis and recession, Nissan did not compromise its strategic priorities. We did not slow our investments to contribute to a zero-emission society. When the Nissan LEAF goes on sale this year - as the first of the eight all-electric models to launch - the Renault-Nissan Alliance will be the first to mass-market affordable zero-emission vehicles, backed by battery capacity of 500,000 units. No other automaker will be producing electric batteries or cars at such a scale. And customers are ready. To date, 130,000 consumers in the U.S. have registered their interest in buying a Nissan LEAF. With sales starting this December, 13,000 pre-orders have been submitted in just over one month in the U.S. and Japan, largely driven by individual customer demand. This amount already surpasses our available production capacity for fiscal year 2010. Another focus of investments has been our emphasis on very affordable transportation. Entry segments today account for more than 25% of the global TIV of 64 million units, and the segment is growing. We will offer maximum value at affordable prices, beginning with a lineup of global compact cars based on Nissan's new V-platform, which will represent 1 million unit sales at full launch. Importantly, these compact cars' new engines will make eco-friendliness accessible to everyone as they set a new standard for fuel efficiency worldwide. Nissan is moving forward with many actions in emerging markets:
• In China, we will be able to produce more than 1 million cars a year in 2012, based on two shifts at our Huadu, Xiangfang and Zhengzhou plants, and we will expand our capacity further in line with market growth. Our intention is to grow our market share from 6% today to 10% as soon as possible.
• Our Alliance plant in Chennai, India, has started production with a 200,000-unit capacity and plans to increase to 400,000 units at full ramp-up in order to supply the Indian market and to export to more than 100 countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. We are also partnering with Ashok Leyland to start LCV production and with Bajaj for an Alliance ultra-low-cost car.
• In Brazil, where TIV grew by 16% this year, our market share stood at less than 1%. Through our growing product portfolio and network coverage, we plan to achieve 5% share in the midterm, contributing to the Alliance share objective of more than 10%.
• In Russia, we will introduce the Murano in early 2011 in our new St. Petersburg factory, in addition to the X-TRAIL and Teana. Nissan's market share stands at 4% today. Using Renault and Avtovaz platforms and production sites and optimizing our capacity, the Renault, Nissan and Avtovaz market share will increase from one-third to 40% as the Russian market recovers.
• In the Middle East, we are on the offensive in GCC with a revitalized network of national sales companies and distributors and the introduction of our large SUV flagship, the all-new Nissan Patrol.
• We are also positioning ourselves for the next wave of emerging countries, such as Indonesia.
Going forward, we believe 2010 will be another difficult year. Global economic conditions are improving, but they are not yet robust. Consumer spending still reflects a shaky confidence in most Western markets as well as in Japan. Commodity prices will be rising with economic recovery. We know the worst of the crisis is behind us, and our plan of action is to emerge from the crisis completely in this fiscal year and start a new mid-term plan in fiscal year 2011. Nissan is heading in the right direction, and we are eager to move forward with clear priorities.
I will begin the summary of our performance during the past year with a review of global sales. The global TIV was 64.1 million units, an increase from the 61.6 million units sold in fiscal year 2008, mainly due to increases coming from government-led stimulus programs around the world and the increased demand in emerging markets, especially in China. Nissan's global sales amounted to 3.515 million units, a 3% increase year-on-year. Our sales evolution was in line with the TIV change in volatile market conditions, and our overall market share was 5.5%. In the fourth quarter alone, global sales totaled 1,010,000 units, up 29.7% from the same period in fiscal 2008. As in the third quarter, the increase was primarily due to the strong growth in China and the recovery in most of the mature markets. We launched eight new models globally, including the PIXO in Europe; Patrol in the Middle East; NV200 Vanette, Fuga and Roox in Japan; Infiniti G Convertible and 370Z Roadster in the United States; and the new March in Thailand, the first in our global compact car series. Let me give the sales breakdown by region. In Japan, supported by the eco-car tax reductions and incentives offered by the government, the TIV increased 3.8% year-on-year. Our sales reached 630,000 units, 2.9% above the previous year. Nissan's market share remained stable at 12.9%. The NECO series of fuel-efficient models contributed to our sales. Serena was the number-one minivan for the second year in a row, and X-TRAIL ranked first in the SUV segment for the third consecutive year. In the United States, the TIV dropped 9.3% to 10.8 million units. We sold 824,000 units, down 3.8%, while our market share increased four-tenths of a percentage point, to 7.6%. In the fourth quarter alone, sales in the U.S. increased 30.6%, resulting in a record market share of 9%, with strong contributions from the sales of Versa and Altima. In Europe, where the TIV decreased 6.4%, we sold 517,000 units, down 2.4% from the prior year, but our market share increased slightly to 2.8%. Government scrap incentives contributed to our sales increase of 24.5% in Western Europe, but the sales gain was offset by the 60.6% decline in sales in Russia. The light commercial vehicle segment in Europe is still in a very tough position, but we were pleased that our NV200 small van was named the "International Van of the Year 2010." In China, our sales grew 38.7% to 756,000 units. Our market share was 6%, down four-tenths of a percentage point from the prior year because our supply could not meet the strong market demand. In the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2009, sales in China increased 48.1% to 214,000 units, thanks to the strong offensive coming from Sylphy, Teana and Livina. Sales in the first quarter of fiscal year 2010 showed continuous growth, increasing 68.2% to 243,200 units. In other markets, sales in Thailand increased 24.2% to 34,600 units, and the March was named the "Most Environmentally Friendly Car of the Year." In the Middle East, sales dropped 19.7% to 179,100 units. In Australia, sales decreased 1.2% to 55,600 units.
FY09 financial performance Recovery plan actions taken to preserve cash and recover profits contributed to our financial performance in fiscal year 2009. Consolidated net revenues decreased 10.9%, to 7.517 trillion yen, which reflects the stronger yen offsetting the increase in sales volume. Consolidated operating profit totaled 311.6 billion yen, compared to a negative 137.9 billion yen in fiscal 2008. Net income reached 42.4 billion yen, compared to a negative 233.7 billion yen in fiscal 2008. Explaining the operating profit variance analysis:
• The 162.5 billion yen negative impact from foreign exchange came from the appreciation of the yen against all currencies. By currency, the majority of this variance was due to the impact of the U.S. dollar at 86 billion yen, the Russian ruble at 28 billion yen, and the Canadian dollar at 14 billion yen.
• The net impact from purchasing cost reduction was a positive 215.4 billion yen. This amount included a positive impact from the decrease in raw material and energy costs by 81 billion yen. Even though the current market price on raw materials is rapidly increasing, the impact on our results was positive in fiscal year 2009.
• Volume and mix produced a positive impact of 26.9 billion yen as a result of the increase in global sales volume. The fourth quarter of fiscal 2009 was positive by 153.1 billion yen due to the volume recovery in most countries.
• The reduction in Marketing and Sales expense was a positive 27.1 billion yen due mainly to savings in fixed expenses, such as advertising. Incentive spending was increased in Europe due to its tough market conditions.
• The provisions for the residual risk on leased vehicles in North America resulted in a positive variance of 141.7 billion yen, including gains on disposal because of improved used-car prices in our lease portfolio.
• R&D costs decreased 64.5 billion yen.
• Sales financing contributed a positive 50.1 billion yen. This was due mainly to better borrowing costs across the globe and lower loss provisions compared to fiscal year 2008.
• The remaining variance was a positive 86.3 billion yen, due mainly to savings in fixed expenses for all areas, including manufacturing costs and G&A expenses, as well as the profit recovery from affiliate companies, such as Jatco.
For the fourth quarter, global production volume totaled 951,000 units. Our flexible production network responded quickly to adjust production volumes in line with demand. Due to careful inventory management, our inventory of new vehicles remains at a low level, at 470,000 units at the end of fiscal year 2009. We continue to manage inventory carefully to limit its impact on our free cash flow.
FY10 outlook Let's move to our outlook for fiscal year 2010. With a TIV assumption of 66 million units, we expect our global sales to reach 3.8 million units, an increase of 8%, and a record level for Nissan. Our market share will stand at 5.8%. Our global production volume is forecast to be 3.75 million units. We will launch 10 new models globally, with more than 10 regional product launches. Our plan includes the launches of:
• Juke, Elgrand, a new minivan and a new minicar in Japan;
• Infiniti QX in the United States, followed by GCC and Russia;
• the NV series of commercial vans and a convertible crossover in the United States, along with the new Quest minivan for both the U.S. and Canadian markets;
• the Nissan LEAF zero-emission car in the United States and Japan, followed by Europe; and
• the second car in our global compact car series: an affordable sedan.
In fiscal year 2010, we will introduce more than 15 new technologies. "Zero emission" and "PURE DRIVE" are the two key pillars of our environment technology. Our zero-emission technologies will be highlighted by the launch of our EV, Nissan LEAF. In addition to EV, for our internal combustion engine vehicles, we will push hard on a range of low-carbon and low-emission technologies called "PURE DRIVE." These advances include Nissan's original hybrid and clean diesels in association with Renault, which will provide greater fuel efficiency. In addition, we are placing low-emission technologies in an increasing number of our new vehicles. For example, we'll apply idle stop to a wider range of models, starting with compact cars. With so many innovative technologies and products to come, 2010 will be a year to reinforce the image of "Nissan of Technology" in our customers' minds.
Each new year brings risks and opportunities. In fiscal 2010, risks include the continuing strong yen, increasing raw material costs, ongoing uncertainty in world markets, and instability and volatility within the euro-zone. Opportunities include a better-than-expected foreign exchange rate, sales increase in emerging markets, acceleration of Alliance synergies with Renault and further strategic cooperation with Daimler. In light of these factors, we have filed our forecast with the Tokyo Stock Exchange, using a foreign exchange rate assumption for the year of 90 yen to the dollar and 120 yen to the euro. For fiscal year 2010, we forecast the following:
• Net revenue is forecast to be 8.2 trillion yen.
• Operating profit is expected to be 350 billion yen.
• Net income is forecast to be 150 billion yen.
• Capital expenditures are expected to reach 360 billion yen.
• R&D expenses will amount to 430 billion yen.
• Free cash flow will be positive.
• Net auto debt will be eliminated at the end of fiscal year 2010.
Operating profit analysis As I said earlier, we expect the environment in the fiscal year 2010 to continue to be very tough. Even so, our operating profit forecast is expected to be better than last year's performance by 38.4 billion yen - from 311.6 billion yen to 350 billion yen - due to several factors:
• The impact from foreign exchange is a negative 30 billion yen, with the U.S. dollar accounting for the majority of this variance.
• The provisions for the residual risk on leased vehicles in North America result in a negative variance of 40 billion yen, due mainly to the gains on disposal in the last fiscal year because of improved used-car prices in our lease portfolio.
• The net impact from purchasing cost reduction is a positive 60 billion yen. This amount includes a negative impact from the significant increase in raw material and energy costs.
• Volume and mix will produce a positive impact of 270 billion yen as a result of the growth in global sales volume.
• The increase of Marketing and Sales expenses is a negative 140 billion yen due to the normalization of fixed expenses, such as advertising, and the rise in incentives as our volume increases.
• R&D costs are expected to increase by 45 billion yen.
• Others are negative 36.6 billion yen, due mainly to an increase in manufacturing costs and a partial normalization of labor costs to a pre-crisis level.
Direction on recovery Ending fiscal year 2009 with better-than-expected results is good, but market conditions are still volatile. Nissan employees continue to be fully engaged in our company's recovery plan. Our efforts are focused around three core pillars - namely, revenue growth, tight cost management and free cash flow generation. Let me describe each one. First is revenue growth. Though some of our volume will always be linked to external factors, such as shifts in TIV, increases in sales volume are also the result of our own internal efforts. In each major market, we have concrete actions to increase market share, leveraging the planned launches of our 10 new models. For example:
• In the United States, dealer network enhancement activities are supporting performance improvement.
• In China, we intend to secure adequate supply to keep pace with the speed of market growth.
• In Europe, we established a Share Improvement Program that includes detailed steps, such as identifying opportunities through internal benchmarking, setting action plans, allocating resources and reviewing progress on a monthly basis. The improved performance that began in the middle of 2009 is continuing.
On an ongoing basis, we monitor our global car-flow situation closely every month, and we look for ways to optimize opportunities. In addition to vehicle sales, we continue to pursue the growth of associated business, such as after-sales, sales financing and OEM business. In fiscal year 2010, teams will be working on enhancing our conversion and accessory business as well as service business... expanding sales financing activities regionally... and developing business deals around vehicles, powertrains and technologies, including IP licensing of Nissan's technical strengths. Second is tight cost management. Cost reduction within the monozukuri team will continue to be the main pillar of our 2010 recovery plan. Our monozukuri functions - Engineering, Purchasing, Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management - will continue to focus on our action plans linked to technical cost reduction, parts diversity and complexity reduction, and change of material usage. For cost reduction and to neutralize foreign exchange volatility, we will continue resourcing vehicles, parts and powertrains and the localization of parts. In addition to monozukuri cost reduction, we will continue our frugal policy in expenses, such as marketing, manufacturing, R&D, overtime, travel and G&A. We will eliminate some unsustainable measures put in place during the crisis, but we will adopt the new mindset related to all expenses, based on our new standards. In other words, some of the measures put in place throughout our company will become the new normal. The third pillar of our plan is free cash flow generation. In fiscal year 2009, we achieved our positive free cash flow objective, driven largely by cash generation from profit and strictly managed working capital, which includes inventory, accounts payable and receivable. In fiscal year 2010, due to the expected increase in sales and additional sourcing from India and Thailand, working capital will have a negative effect on free cash flow. However, we will minimize this impact through continued strict inventory management, such as ongoing complexity reduction. We will also continue to control all major components of free cash flow other than working capital, such as investing activities. By achieving the three core pillars - revenue growth, disciplined cost management and free cash flow generation - Nissan will be able to complete its recovery this year.
The strategic actions we have described today not only reflect our long-term vision of Nissan as a global company that creates sustainable value, but they also show our commitment to maximizing total shareholder return. Based on the current state of our business and weighing the risks and opportunities for this year, we are planning to reinstate dividend payments for fiscal year 2010 at 10 yen for the full year: 5 yen for the interim dividend and 5 yen for the year-end dividend. We will elaborate on future dividend policies when we announce our midterm plan. At the foundation of Nissan's strategy lies the Renault-Nissan Alliance, which is now in its 11th year. The Alliance is a constant lever for creating value and improving performance. Supported by the dedicated team within Renault Nissan BV, compared to our objective of 180 billion yen, we achieved 228 billion yen worth of synergies for the Alliance in 2009, contributing to the free cash flow of both companies for their respective fiscal years. Nissan alone achieved 116 billion yen worth of synergies, primarily through pure cost and CAPEX savings as well as cost and CAPEX avoidance. In 2010 the Alliance should generate 120 billion yen in savings in new synergies. If we include carryover of previous years' synergies, the effect on 2010 free cash flow will be more than 240 billion yen for both Renault and Nissan. The scope of synergies will include joint revenue opportunities in addition to cost and CAPEX savings and avoidance. With more upstream involvement in the decision-making process, the Alliance will be able to identify and integrate synergies into the future plans of both companies. The pursuit of synergies is also behind our strategic cooperation with Daimler, with whom the Alliance will work on small cars, powertrain sharing - including Daimler's 4-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines and a 6-cylinder diesel engine for Infiniti - light commercial vehicles, electric vehicles and batteries, and other areas of common interest. The synergies with Daimler have a projected net present value of at least 2 billion euros for the Alliance. The Renault-Nissan Alliance has established an effective model within our industry. We have shown how large, complex organizations can work together to use scale effectively while maintaining separate corporate identities and autonomy of action. We have demonstrated that strategic partnerships allow each partner to realize more opportunities than either could ever achieve on its own. The synergies Nissan achieves with Renault and, now, with Daimler will contribute to our company's complete recovery and enable future growth. This means growing and being sustainable in a new era that requires meeting the growing demand for affordable mobility while being conscious of and responsive to environmental requirements. A year ago, I said Nissan knows how to adapt and face a crisis. Today, you can see how we have progressed and where we are headed. The lessons learned from our revival experience in 1999 and our recovery actions in 2009 are now built or being built into our global business practices. We will emerge from this crisis more competitive and stronger. Our commitment to our customers and our stakeholders is that - no matter what the obstacles - you can expect the best from Nissan.