Nissan Motor CEO Uchida on $18 Billion Electric-Vehicle Strategy
Nissan Motor Co. will invest 2 trillion yen (US$17.6 billion) over the next five years to electrify more of its lineup and turn battery-powered cars into a pillar of its long-term growth.
The Japanese automaker will introduce 23 new models by fiscal 2030, including 15 new electric vehicles, and aim for more than half of its sales to be electrified by then, the company said Monday.
Nissan, on track to return to annual profit for the first time in three years, is seeking to use know-how it amassed as an early entrant into the EV market as a foundation for growth. The Yokohama-based carmaker was an early leader, releasing the world’s first mass-produced EV in 2010. The Leaf is still one of the world’s top-selling EVs, though in recent years its annual sales have been outpaced by Tesla Inc.’s models.
“2 trillion yen is quite huge but we’ve alreaady invested 1 trillion up until today,” Chief Executive Officer Makoto Uchida said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. He declined to specify how the company would fund the investment. “I’m confident we can make this future invsestment while growing the company itself.”
Nissan’s investment total underscores “the difficulty to remain relevant in the EV race, especially for a company with lower profit margins,” said Tatsuo Yoshida, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst.
Nissan has been ramping up its EV ambitions and announced a slew of investments, including plans to build a US$1.4 billion hub to manufacture battery-powered cars in the U.K. The automaker said on Monday that it plans to further increase its global battery production capacity to 130 gigawatt-hours by fiscal 2030, and launch an EV equipped with a solid-state battery by fiscal 2028.
“We have a 10-year head start over competitors with electrification,” Uchida said during an earlier online briefing. “We will leverage this experience,” and “speed up the shift with further investment.”
A pilot plant for solid-state batteries will be be operational in Yokohama by around fiscal 2024, with aims to start mass production by around 2028. The next-generation batteries are key to achieving cost parity between EVs and gasoline cars, according to Nissan.
Nissan’s much-anticipated Ariya SUV and other electric models are set to join an increasingly saturated market. Over the next decade, global EV sales are projected to rise above 10 million a year from around 1 million today. That’s drawing competition.
The world’s second-biggest automaker, Volkswagen AG, is investing aggressively in a bid to unseat Tesla as the top EV maker, while others such as General Motors Co. and Honda Motor Co. have committed to selling only EVs in two decades.
By geography, Nissan plans to electrify more than 75 per cent of sales in Europe, 55 per cent of sales in Japan, and 40 per cent of sales in China by fiscal 2026. It plans to have 40 per cent of sales in the U.S. electrific in fiscal 2030. Its long-term strategy also includes 20 billion yen of spending on increasing charging spots for electric cars.
The new electrification strategy, called Nissan Ambition 2030, is a step beyond a midterm turnaround plan unveiled in 2020 as the company grappled with an aging lineup and incentive-fueled sales cutting into profitability.
“The time is right for us to shift gears from focusing on business transformation to creating the future,” Uchida said. “Nissan Next is on track and we have laid a strong foundation for progressive change.”
That four-year plan involved eliminating about 300 billion yen in annual fixed costs, cutting production capacity by around 20 per cent and launching a dozen new vehicle models.
Cost cuts and better profit margins on car sales — both tenets of the so-called Nissan Next plan — have helped offset volume lost due to parts shortages. Nissan is forecasting an operating profit of 180 billion yen for the fiscal year through March.