September 24, 2011

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn speaks with the Global Media Center in Kyushu

Q1. We’re here at Nissan’s Kyushu facilities, which raised output by a third last year and will soon account for half of the company’s domestic output. Does this show it remains possible to export from Japan even when the yen is near record levels?


I have no doubt that Japan can continue to manufacture on a large scale -- not only for internal production, but also for exports.

While, obviously, the more the yen strengthens, the more it eats into our ability and competitiveness, but we have to recognize also that the level of the yen today is at a historical high. I don’t think it is going to stay there. Hopefully, with the lobbying we are making and with the normalization of the economic ambience globally, we’re going to get to a more reasonable level more in line with the historical level.

So, even though we are facing difficulty in the short term, I’m still confident, particularly with the support of all our employees who are helping us by cutting costs and increasing our competitiveness to overcome these very strong headwinds and maintain Japan as a very strong base for Nissan in the future.

Q2. Nissan’s Kyushu factories export to the Middle East. What’s your outlook for that region given the recent political turmoil?


The turmoil that is happening in the Middle East may be worrying in the short term, but certainly not in the long term. All the crises we are seeing are due to the fact that economies are not as developed as they should be.

People see potential that is much higher than the [situation] they are in, and they want to develop the economy. On top of the political concern, what they want is economic development much faster, which is very good for us.

I’m very optimistic about the mid- and long-term prospects for the Middle East. I think this region is going to be one of the stronger developing regions on top of what we’re seeing in China, Brazil, India and in Russia.

This is a great opportunity for Nissan because our brand has been historically very strong in the Middle East. With the new product offer we have, which totally fits with the needs in the Middle East, plus the normalization of the yen, we should do very well.

Q3. Finally, you met this week with Japan’s new Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. Are you confident the government will address some of the headwinds afflicting the nation's automakers?


The Prime Minister has been extremely attentive to what we told him yesterday during the visit. We try not to make it extremely complicated or cumbersome with many requests and different directions. We say there is only one particular problem that we need for him to deal with: the strength of the yen. Everything else we can deal with.

He understood, he asked us for some patience, but he is convinced that there is something that the government needs to do in this field and, hopefully, what we’ll be seeing in the next weeks and months are initiatives that will deliver results in terms of bring back the yen to more normal levels.

We’re not asking for a competitive advantage here. We’re just asking for normalization of something that is abnormal.