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The global semiconductor shortage is still reverberating through the auto industry as the total output by eight major Japanese automakers fell 4.5% from a year earlier to 2.12 million vehicles in January. The only two Japanese automakers to survive the downward trend were — not so surprisingly — Toyota (4% higher than last year) and — somewhat surprisingly — Nissan (2.4%).

Part of latter’s uptick is reportedly due to its strategic partnership with Dongfeng Motor Group Co. and the recent success of Nissan’s Sylphy sedan in China. High hopes are also being pinned on Nissan’s trail-blazing strides in electrified cars and hybrid technology. The automaker reached a milestone last month when it announced it had achieved a 50% thermal efficiency with its e-Power hybrid technology.

Will Nissan be able to heal from its recent black eye? That’s still hard to predict, complicated by the fact that the boardroom scandal surrounding ousted Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn is staying in the headlines and consumers’ minds.

Two Americans charged with helping former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn flee Japan have asked the U.S. State Department to halt their extradition to Japan. | AFP-JIJI
Two Americans charged with helping former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn flee Japan have asked the U.S. State Department to halt their extradition to Japan. | AFP-JIJI

Last month Hari Nada, a senior vice president at the Yokohama-based automaker, told a Tokyo district courtroom that plans to remove the former Nissan boss were hatched well before his arrest in November 2018.  In the same courtroom, Hiroto Saikawa, who was a close aide to Ghosn, said that he signed documents outlining Ghosn’s post-retirement remuneration in front of his boss. Saikawa said he found it “necessary” to give a generous package to Ghosn to keep him motivated to work for Nissan and prevent him from going to a rival automaker.

In the U.S., the attempts to extradite the father-son duo who allegedly masterminded Ghosn’s outrageous escape from Japan have taken some turns. While the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an emergency appeal to delay, lawyers for Michael and Peter Taylor made an 11th-hour plea to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

In Turkey, it was a bit more more straightforward: Last week, an Istanbul court sentenced three Turks to four years and two months in prison for helping smuggle the former Nissan boss to Lebanon. Pleading ignorance, the pilots claimed they didn’t know that they were transporting a fugitive. “They ask us to fly the plane and that is what we do,” pilot Noyan Pasin said.

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