NEW YORK -- As Nissan pushes to boost U.S. market share and cut reliance on Japanese imports, it's clear which goal takes priority: selling more vehicles.
Even if it takes more imports to do it.
Nissan Motor Corp. CEO Carlos Ghosn says the devalued yen has made his Japanese plants an acceptable solution to augment North American production as the company stretches for a 10 percent U.S. market share. Nissan's U.S. share is 8.5 percent through October this year.
"If we are strained for capacity in North America now and it's time to increase it, I think our capacity in Japan can support our U.S. initiative," Ghosn said in an interview here.
That is not a long-term reversal of his strategy of recent years -- of reducing Japanese vehicle shipments to U.S. retailers, he emphasizes. Rather it is a handy new opportunity.
"The yen has been a handicap for us for the past three years, but it's no longer a handicap," Ghosn said. "We have to admit that in the past, even though we were squeezed on U.S. capacity, we could not use our existing capacity in Japan.
"We haven't changed our strategy. But now, with the yen at 114 or 115 to the dollar, shipping some cars from Japan to support our offensive here makes sense."