TOKYO — Just two months ago, as Nissan began devising a new midterm plan to get out of the profit-draining situation it has gotten itself into, CEO Makoto Uchida staked his job on a "no taboos" onslaught of cost cutting in North America.
But Uchida's determination to cut overhead in North America might have signaled the wrong message to outsiders: Nissan does not intend to give up ground in the U.S. market — it intends to redouble its efforts there.
People familiar with Nissan's soon-to-be-announced restructuring plan say the biggest operational cutbacks around the world will largely spare the critical U.S. market, instead targeting lackluster operations and lineups in other regions.
The strategy is to free resources from underperforming businesses so Nissan can eventually channel more — not less — into the core U.S. market, along with China and Japan, the people said.
Under the blueprint taking shape, the rest of the world's pain could be America's gain.
"We will be putting maximum energy into the U.S." one person involved with the planning said. "The problem is that we expanded too far everywhere else. If you look at it like that, it's very easy to rescale.
"It's about products," the person added. "Better products, new products and on-time products."
Nissan executives are putting the final touches on the long-awaited midterm plan for a way forward, allowing room for last-minute adjustments to account for developments in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nissan was already reeling from plunging profits and tumbling sales when the global health crisis exacerbated its business problems and forced it to suspend production around the world.
Nissan gave a hint of the pain that's in store last week when it warned the company had slumped to an operating and net loss for the fiscal year ended March 31. Nissan's global alliance partner Mitsubishi warned it, too, will post a net loss, and handed its top executives pay cuts in penitence.
It has been a turbulent year for Nissan, one of the world's largest automakers through its cross-ownership alliance with Mitsubishi and France's Renault. Last week's profit warning was its third profit revision for the just-ended fiscal year.
Nissan's prior forecast predicted operating profit would fall 73 percent and net income would plunge 80 percent. But even that now-scrubbed guidance hoped for razor-thin profits.
Nissan will announce full details of its earnings May 28, about two weeks behind schedule, and it may unveil its new midterm business plan at the same time.