Nissan’s logo is displayed at a Tokyo showroom. Picture: BLOOMBERG
Nissan’s logo is displayed at a Tokyo showroom. Picture: BLOOMBERG

Chicago — The Renault-Nissan Alliance came just short of matching General Motors (GM) and joining the ranks of the three-biggest auto-makers by global sales after CEO Carlos Ghosn rescued a Japanese peer last year.

Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors together delivered 9.96-million vehicles last year, the alliance said. The three auto-makers, chaired by Ghosn, finished fewer than 4,000 cars and trucks short of GM’s deliveries in 2016 and within about 350,000 units of new worldwide leader Volkswagen (VW).

Ghosn emphasised the scale Renault and Nissan would add by coming to the aid of Japanese peer Mitsubishi last year, following a fuel-economy scandal that dates back decades. The alliance is including Mitsubishi in its sales tally despite Nissan owning only about 34% of the company. "The combination of Groupe Renault, Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Motors creates a new force in the global auto industry,’’ Ghosn said.

After taking over as Nissan’s president in 1999, Ghosn restored the struggling company to profitability by breaking up its "keiretsu" or network of suppliers, shutting plants and leveraging the alliance with Renault.

Mitsubishi rescue

Ghosn may have to put his restructuring skills to work again at Mitsubishi, which is projecting a ¥202bn ($1.8bn) loss for the fiscal year ending in March. The Tokyo-based car-maker said last year that its management had failed to oversee proper fuel-economy as far back as 1991.

Mitsubishi added 934,013 vehicle sales to the alliance’s total for 2016. Deliveries fell 13% last year, driven by sagging confidence in the brand in Japan and weaker demand from Brazil, Russia and the Middle East.

A Renault logo is seen outside a dealership in Nice, France. Picture: REUTERS
A Renault logo is seen outside a dealership in Nice, France. Picture: REUTERS

Both Renault and Nissan reported sales gains for 2016. In France, the Boulogne-Billancourt-based Renault, which owns about 45% of Nissan, boosted deliveries by 13% to 3.2 million. At Nissan, sales rose 2.5% to a record 5.6-million last year. The Yokohama-based company holds a 15% stake in Renault.

The alliance said it remained the world’s top-seller of electric vehicles, selling 94,265 last year. The two have delivered almost 425,000 since the Nissan Leaf went on sale in 2010.

VW dethroned Toyota last year to become the world’s top-selling auto-maker for the first time, despite its diesel-cheating scandal. The German auto-maker delivered a record 10.3-million vehicles in 2016, as Toyota fell short of 10.2-million.

Bloomberg

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