LOS ANGELES - Nissan Motor Co.'s global restructuring plans may include taking the Infiniti marque outside the U.S. market.
During a two-hour discussion with journalists here last week, Nissan President Carlos Ghosn called Infiniti an asset that could be used in other markets. The brand's expansion outside U.S. borders is 'a fact, a possibility,' he said.
During the question-and-answer session, Ghosn also said Nissan has nearly completed its selection of suppliers willing to sacrifice a 20 percent cost reduction in exchange for a larger share of Nissan's business. The new contracts will be signed in April.
'We now have a clear road map which will lead to a reduction in the number of suppliers,' Ghosn said. 'A lot of companies will be becoming global and committed partners.'
Ghosn also said he expects the pace of divestitures of Nissan affiliates to accelerate through this year as ongoing negotiations make headway. The team of CFO Thierry Moulonguet and Senior Vice President Kuniaki Sasaki is in charge of this process, which Ghosn pledged 'will not be a fire sale.'
While cutting costs is important, so is spending on product development and r&d. That is why Nissan built the Tino hybrid car, even though the segment is a money-loser for now, he said.
'(Just because) you don't make money, doesn't mean you're not going to sell it,' Ghosn said. 'You have to do the car, run it, sell it, work with suppliers and give yourself cost-reduction targets and make it happen.
'You could stop (development), but then you stop the technology.'
Nissan's new unified global brand strategy will be unveiled to top-tier executives in April, then funneled down to dealers in July and the employee ranks through the rest of the year. Ghosn hopes employees can keep secret Nissan's global image ideas until a public unveiling of the plan early next year, most likely at the Detroit auto show.
Said Ghosn: 'We have to do this with a demonstration of something ... otherwise you lose credibility. This is not just for aesthetics. I don't want it to be artificial.'