Nissan needs to ‘clean out the closet’ to turn around falling sales with new EVs

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Nissan’s CEO needs to clean out his closet, according to his wife. The same goes for the 90-year-old automaker as it transitions to a new era. Nissan is gearing up to reveal a new EV plan as part of a midterm update to turn things around.

Amid falling sales, Nissan’s CEO, Makota Uchida, is taking advice from his wife. The Japanese business leader wants to reinvent the company to compete in the modern era.

Uchida’s wife said his old clothes were taking up space and long out of fashion, much like Nissan’s lineup. His wife added that the space could be better used.

Nissan’s CEO told his wife, “Yes, you’re right,” in an interview with Automotive News, “But I like them.” He added, “It’s the same thing for the company. The tendency is to hang on to all that old legacy.”

The Japanese automaker, once viewed as an EV pioneer with the release of the LEAF in 2010, has fallen behind as the industry moves toward electric.

Uchida added, referring to outdated clothes, “But is it going to fit you in the future or make you more handsome in the future? No way.”

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2024 Nissan LEAF (Source: Nissan)

“We cannot continue old ways of business from the past into the future,” Nissan’s leader explained. Uchida asked, “How do we make ourselves efficient enough to be competitive against those new, fast, agile companies?”

EV leaders like Tesla and BYD are launching new models in key segments as adoption continues climbing.

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(Source: Nissan)

Nissan to reveal new EV plan amid falling sales

Uchida aims to reveal a new midterm strategy by the end of March. The new plan will outline Nissan’s next three years, including a longer-term update.

According to AN, the update will address how Nissan plans to be more competitive with EVs, rivaling low-cost models from China and improving network efficiency.

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Nissan Ariya electric SUV (Source: Nissan)

Despite the launch of its first EV in over a decade, Nissan’s global EV sales slipped to 127,953 through November of last year, down from 128,194 in 2022.

In comparison, Tesla handed over a record 1.81 million EVs last year, up 38% from 2022. Production was also up 35%.

BYD, which topped Tesla as the global EV leader in Q4, can launch a new car from scratch to finish in 18 months. Most automakers take around four years. The automaker builds nearly every component in-house. For example, all the parts on the Dolphin electric hatch, other than the tires and windows, are built by BYD.

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2023 Nissan Ariya (Source: Nissan)

Uchida said, “Moving forward, how can we make this horizontal way of business competitive?” He believes it involves working with suppliers.

Nissan began delivering the Ariya electric SUV in Japan in May 2022, with it hitting the US later that fall.

The Japanese automaker sold 13,464 Ariya EVs in the US last year. Despite this, sales of the decade-old LEAF continue to fall. Nissan sold 7,152 LEAFs in the US last year, down from over 12K in 2022 and 14K in 2021.

Nissan’s leader said the automaker remains committed to the affordable segment but needs a better balance.

Electrek’s Take

Although Nissan’s total US sales were up 23% last year, they have yet to top the 1 million mark since 2019.

To keep up, Nissan plans to reveal a new LEAF model sometime this year. The new Nissan LEAF will look more like a crossover coupe SUV to better compete with rivals. According to one Nissan source, it will be closer to the Ariya in design, calling it a “mini-Ariya.”

Nissan aims to launch 19 new EVs by 2030, but that could change with the new EV plan. Although Ariya production is finally picking up, Nissan needs (at least) another model to complement the electric SUV.

If Nissan can launch the next-gen EV at the right price, it could help spark momentum. Nissan is known as a low-cost automaker. Transitioning from that could risk falling further behind rivals like Hyundai, Kia, Volvo, etc.

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