Japan’s Nissan sees smaller loss, promises sales recovery

TOKYO — Nissan reduced its losses in the January-March quarter as restructuring efforts kicked in, despite damage to sales from the coronavirus pandemic, the Japanese automaker said Tuesday.

Nissan Motor Co.’s quarterly losses totaled 81 billion yen ($743 million), a fraction of the 710 billion yen in red ink it racked up last year. Quarterly sales rose to 2.5 trillion yen ($23 billion) from 2.3 trillion yen.

Nissan Chief Executive Makoto Uchida forecast a recovery in this fiscal year, which began April 1. All automakers have suffered because of the pandemic, although some have proved more resilient than others.

“Despite very harsh conditions, we are definitely moving in the right direction,” he said in an online news conference.

“Along with all our global workers passionately tackling our restructuring efforts, we will bring back a glorious Nissan.”

Nissan projects its global vehicle sales will climb nearly 9% to 4.4 million vehicles from 4 million vehicles sold in the fiscal year that just ended.

Vehicles sales are expected to rise in North America, Japan and China, the company said.

But Nissan expects to post a 60 billion yen ($550 million) loss for the fiscal year through March 2022. That’s an improvement over its 449 billion yen ($4.1 billion) loss for the previous year.

The maker of the Leaf electric car and Infiniti luxury models reported an even bigger loss of 671 billion yen in the year before.

“There is continued business risk due to semiconductor supply shortages and raw material price hikes in this fiscal year,” the company said in a statement.

Uchida said the Rogue crossover was doing well in the U.S. market, while new models were in the works worldwide, including electric vehicles.

The Yokohama-based manufacturer has seen its brand tarnished by a high-profile scandal involving its former Chairman Carlos Ghosn, who was sent in by alliance partner Renault in 1999 to lead Nissan.

Ghosn was arrested in late 2018 on charges of under-reporting his future compensation. He fled to Lebanon while out on bail in late 2019. Ghosn says he is innocent.

Toyota Motor Corp. reports its fiscal results on Wednesday, while Honda Motor Co. reports on Friday.