Nissan to focus on fuel-sipping technology and electric cars in China

Norihiko Shirouzu and Eimi Yamamitsu
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: The brand logo of Nissan Motor Corp. is seen on a tyre wheel of the company's car at their showroom in Tokyo

By Norihiko Shirouzu and Eimi Yamamitsu

SHANGHAI/TOKYO (Reuters) -Japan's Nissan Motor Co, which is racing to lift margins and curb costs amid slowing sales, showed off a redesigned version of its X-Trail model on Monday and announced a green car strategy for China at the Shanghai auto show.

The redesigned X-Trail sport-utility vehicle (SUV) was on display after a similar SUV called the Rogue hit the U.S. market last year. The new X-Trail will be available in China this year.

The new car is powered by a fuel-sipping three-cylinder, petrol-powered turbo engine.

One source said it might face an uphill battle finding buyers in China where similar technologies have proved unpopular. Another source said the vehicle was a "must succeed, a must win car for us."

Both sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to speak with reporters.

In addition to the X-Trail's China debut, Chief Operating Officer Ashwani Gupta told reporters Nissan's green car strategy in China would focus on electric hybrids with fuel efficient petrol engines and on battery electric cars.

Gupta, who was addressing reporters in Shanghai from Japan, said six Nissan models would be equipped with e-Power hybrid technology by 2025, starting with the Sylphy later this year.

In January, Nissan said all its new vehicles in key markets, including China, would be electrified by the early 2030s, as part of its efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

The strategy comes as regulatory pressure in China grows on carmakers to slash emissions.

China is a key pillar of Nissan's turnaround strategy, which involves focusing on China, Japan and the United States, rather than the global growth pursued by ousted boss Carlos Ghosn.

The company is scrambling to slash its production capacity and model line-up by a fifth, and is also seeking to cut fixed costs by 300 billion yen ($2.8 billion).

Nissan aims to achieve a 5% operating profit margin and a sustainable global market share of 6% by the end of the fiscal year 2023.

The two sources said Nissan planned to start taking "pre-orders" in China for its upcoming electric Ariya SUV before the end of 2021. Nissan also plans to launch an e-Power X-Trail as early as next year.

($1 = 108.7700 yen)

(Reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu in Shanghai and Eimi Yamamitsu in Tokyo; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Edmund Blair)