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Nissan could retrench from Europe completely to focus on other markets, leaked operational plan reveals

Nissan could retrench from Europe to focus all its efforts on America, China and Japan, suggest reports.

An operational plan is due to be announced on May 28 which will attempt to fix problems from ousted boss Carlos Ghosn, Reuters has reported.

The car maker – which has been largely loss making in Europe for years – will announce an ‘operational performance plan’ later this month which will aim to grab market share in the US at the possible expense of other markets.

‘This is not just a cost-cutting plan. We’re rationalising operations, reprioritising and refocusing our business to plant seeds for the future,’ one of the sources told Reuters.

But Nissan may try to maintain a presence in Europe through stepped-up efforts with its Qashqai and Juke crossover sport-utility vehicles (SUVs), says the report.

A Nissan spokesman said: ‘Nissan remains fully committed to strengthening our product lineup in Europe as part of our ongoing efforts to make the business more competitive.’

Revenue and units are disclosed in the latest accounts for Nissan Europe, but not the profit margin – masking the extent of the losses by wrapping them up in global figures.

One Nissan dealer boss told Car Dealer: ‘They have been running Europe at a loss for years. It is too competitive a market. It’s a telling statement that they are looking to “rationalise” operations, it’s very worrying as that’s what GM said when they sold Vauxhall to PSA.’

Jim Holder, editorial director of Haymarket Automotive which publishes Autocar and What Car? Magazines, said the news sent a confusing picture.

He told Car Dealer: ‘It seems to be a mixed message – a retrenching but not a total retreat from Europe as some are suggesting, with the lucrative SUV market still cited as key for Nissan in Europe.

‘What the plan seems to be aiming at is focussing increasingly stretched resources in the areas where the returns will be greatest – something we can expect all car makers to do.

‘The stark reality for many is that Europe wasn’t a profitable marketplace even before this crisis, relative to the US and China. However, if the line about SUVs in Europe is true then it needn’t be bad news for Sunderland, nor for Nissan dealers who have enjoyed strong business with the SUVs at the heart of their business for more than a decade.’

The Nissan spokesman added: ‘The new Juke, which was launched last November, is the first step in the renewal of our passenger vehicle lineup.

‘Work has already begun to ready our plant in Sunderland, UK, to begin production of the next generation Qashqai crossover. And we’re pushing to further electrify our lineup, with new product entries on the way.

‘We will announce our Mid-Term Plan on May 28.’

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