YOKOHAMA, Japan — Nissan is shifting back into growth mode.
After two years of steep losses and cuts in production capacity and the number of models it sells, Nissan Motor Co. last week announced its return to profitability for the first time since 2019, saying it is making steady progress not only on its midterm revival plan checklist but toward its 2030 growth goals.
In an interview and in other talks last week, COO Ashwani Gupta, the executive charged with executing Nissan's turnaround, said Nissan has "fixed the fundamentals" and at last transitioned from "a volume-led to a value-driven" strategy.
"We have rebuilt the U.S. operations based on quality of sales," he said.
The checklist of corrections include: lower fixed costs, higher revenue per vehicle, better dealer engagement, advances in solid-state batteries and next-generation lidar technologies, new electric vehicles and, crucially, plans for new EV factories to build them.
Japan's No. 3 carmaker is now finally changing gears from recovery to investing in expansion, Gupta said.
In the critical U.S. market, that means turbocharging the transformation from sales quantity to sales quality. It means adopting a build-to-order mindset to achieve more efficient retail sales in a new normal of leaner inventories. And it will likely mean building a third U.S. assembly plant, as the automaker doubles down on electrifying its Nissan and Infiniti brands.
Gupta said he wakes every day at 5 a.m. to call Nissan Americas Chairman Jeremie Papin to make sure everything is still on track. So far, Gupta insists, Nissan is ahead of schedule.
Under the Nissan Next midterm plan, which runs through March 2024, Gupta has slashed ¥350 billion ($2.87 billion) in fixed costs, cut global capacity by 20 percent and consolidated the number of nameplates.
Net revenue per unit in the U.S. has risen 19 percent over the past two years. Segment share shot up for models such as the Rogue crossover and Frontier pickup. And dealer sentiment, as measured by the National Automobile Dealers Association, is on the uptick.
Looking to the next phase, electrification and technology will be big drivers.