Nissan Motor Co. chief Carlos Ghosn announced Thursday the carmaker will add 1 million units to its global sales by the end of the 2004 business year by launching at least 28 new models worldwide.

The announcement is part of a three-year business plan through the end of September 2005, which according to Ghosn, is designed to take the once ailing automaker to a higher level of performance and secure profitable growth.

Of the envisaged 1 million additional sales, 300,000 units will come from Japan, another 300,000 from the United States, 100,000 from the European markets, and the remaining 300,000 will be from other global markets including Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Asian markets, the president and chief executive officer said.

By the end of the plan, Nissan’s global sales will reach 3.6 million units from the current 2.59 million units.

Under the new business plan, called “Nissan 180,” Nissan will continue to focus on improving efficiencies in areas such as purchasing, manufacturing, logistics and distribution.

Ghosn also said the firm hopes to achieve an 8 percent operating margin through growth and cost reduction efforts under the plan, and to eliminate its net automotive debt by the end of the three year plan.

The plan will also continue to take advantage of the synergies produced between its alliance partner Renault SA of France, which owns 44.4 percent of Nissan, Ghosn said, adding that at least five out of the 28 new models scheduled to be launched globally will be jointly developed with Renault.

“Nissan is now ready to grow,” said Ghosn, explaining that the firm’s previous restructuring plan, called Nissan Revival Plan, was achieved a year ahead of schedule. “Through Nissan 180, we will transform a good company into a great company.”

Under the previous plan, which began in October 1999, the firm committed to make the firm profitable in the first year, achieving a minimum 4.5 percent operating margin by fiscal year 2002 and reduce net debt to no more than 700 billion yen by the end of the same year.

Due to the faster-than-expected achievements, Ghosn said Nissan is to post its record full-year earnings and fourth consecutive record half year operating profit.

For the business year that ended March 31, Ghosn said Nissan expects to report consolidated sales of 6.2 trillion yen, up 1.8 percent from last year. Its group operating profit is expected to jump 68 percent from last year to 490 billion yen.

The firm will likely to post a consolidated net profit of 372 billion yen, he said. The operating margin is expected to come to 7.9 percent of net sales, which will be a record for Nissan, he said. The official announcement of the firm’s business results for fiscal 2001 is scheduled for May 20.

Ghosn, meanwhile, said the firm has yet to reach an agreement of the details of expanding the business relationship with the Chinese Dongfeng group.

His comment follows a Japanese newspaper report that Nissan plans to begin joint automobile production in China with Dongfeng under a holding company in the 2003 business year.

Daihatsu profits down

Minicar maker Daihatsu Motor Co. said Thursday consolidated sales and profits in the 2001 business year were down from a year earlier due to declining domestic sales.

For the year to March 31, the subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corp. said its group sales fell 5.5 percent from the previous year to 943.9 billion yen, and consolidated net profit declined 40.5 percent to 9.3 billion yen.

Group operating profit also fell 44.4 percent from a year earlier to 18.5 billion yen, and pretax profit declined 49.9 percent to 16.1 billion yen.

The firm said it will pay an annual dividend of 7 yen per share, unchanged from the previous year.

For the current year, Daihatsu said it expects consolidated group sales of 970 billion yen, up 2.8 percent, while net profit is estimated to decline 14.1 percent to 8 billion yen.

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