TOKYO — Nissan Motor Co.'s financial struggles of the past two years are well known. But as Japan's automakers last week reported year-end results and upbeat forecasts for the year ahead, it was evident again just how serious Nissan's situation remains.
Nissan stood out as the only Japanese automaker still struggling to right itself as the pandemic lifts and consumers clamor for new vehicles. The company booked its largest-ever operating loss in the fiscal year ended March 31 and said last week it expects another net loss in the current fiscal year, making a third-straight year of red ink.
In terms of operating profit, Nissan hopes to simply break even this fiscal year, even as its competitors forecast big gains ahead.
But Nissan has a long way to claw back. The automaker was already reeling from imploding sales and falling profits when the pandemic broadsided its business. The worldwide shortage of microchips has further torpedoed output and dented results.
Nissan said it lost about 65,000 units of planned production in the fiscal year ended March 31 because of the chip shortage. It expects to lose another 250,000 through March 2022.
Nissan's important U.S. business showed signs of improving, with higher net revenue per vehicle, lower incentives, increased market share and better franchise values. But worldwide sales dropped 18 percent to 4.1 million vehicles in the just-ended 12-month period. Though Nissan expects sales to increase to 4.4 million in the current fiscal year, that level is still below the annual tallies the company booked pre-pandemic of more than 5 million.
Under CEO Makoto Uchida's Nissan Next midterm plan, Nissan wants to achieve an operating profit margin of 5 percent and a sustainable global market share of 6 percent by March 31, 2024. But external factors are throwing up roadblocks.