Renault Nissan Sets Sales Record in 2012 Despite EU, Asian Drops

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Ghosn’s optimistic Leaf and other EV sales predictions have thus far failed to materialize costing shareholders billions. The bet could still pay off in the long run. 

The Renault Nissan Alliance sold 8,101,310 vehicles in 2012, a new record for the companies. Calendar-year sales increased about 1% from 2011, with strong growth in emerging markets and the U.S., offsetting the ongoing European crisis, which has resulted in five straight years of sales declines.

In 2012, global sales of all zero-emission vehicles across Renault Nissan were 43,829 units, up 83.8% from 2011 as Nissan LEAF sales increased worldwide and Renault launched two more EVs. The Alliance’s worldwide zero-emission market share stood at 64%, excluding Twizy, Renault’s two-seater urban commuter. Since sales began in December 2010 to the end of 2012, the Alliance sold 67,723 zero-emission vehicles globally. Billions of dollars are at stake for shareholders in this EV investment that is thus far behind its original sales goals. In the interim see Nissan to Add 15 Hybrid Models by 2016 after it once dismissed the fuel saving technology.

Avtovaz sold 610,891 vehicles, down 5.5% from 2011 as a Russian incentive program ended. Last December, the Renault Nissan Alliance created a joint venture to accelerate its market offensive in Russia where the Alliance sells one in three cars nationwide. Ford, GM, Renault and Volkswagen are all expanding in Russia as the new vehicle market is growing to about 3 million units annually. (Read AutoInformed on  and Renault-Nissan Take Control of Russian Automaker Avtovaz and Bosch follows Automakers into Russia as Market Booms)

Renault group sold 2.55 vehicles in 2012, down 6.3% from 2011. Nissan posted record global sales of 4.94 million units in 2012, up 5.8% from 2011. Nissan had two growth markets – China, the world’s largest, as well as the second largest, the United States, each exceeding 1 million units for the once insolvent Japanese automaker.

“2012 was a challenging year due to the continued decline in Renault’s historic core market of western Europe and due to political tension in China, Nissan’s top market worldwide,” said Renault-Nissan Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn.

Renault sales declined 18% in Europe as car sales throughout the continent dropped 8.6% to 1,270,688 units as the overall auto market in the European Union tumbled to its lowest level in almost 17 years. Renault group sales increased 9.1% outside Europe, because of Brazil, Russia, and Algeria. Nissan sold 4,940,133 units,

Renault’s top markets worldwide are France, Brazil and Russia. Sales in Brazil increased 24.3% to a record 241,594 units and record market share of 6.6%, in part from the launch of the Duster sports utility vehicle and the continued success of the remodeled Sandero hatchback. Renault’s sales in Russia climbed 22.7% to 189,852 units with record market share of 6.5%. Renault is the third most popular brand in Russia, due to the mid-sized Mégane, Fluence sedan and Duster.

Renault remained the number one passenger carmaker in France, with sales of the Twingo mini-vehicle, Mégane and Scenic multi-purpose van all leaders in their segments. It also remained Europe’s light commercial vehicles leader for the fifteenth straight year with a market share of 15.5%.

Sales at Renault Samsung Motors in Korea fell 45.1% as the company began  a major corporate restructuring plan, including an overhaul of its product lineup and retail strategy.

In Japan, Nissan’s sales rose 11.6% to 659,756 units. The new Note hatchback, NV350 Caravan and Serena minivan contributed to the sales increase. Mini-vehicles grew 5.4% to 153,335 units, a record for a calendar year.

Nissan overseas sales rose 4.9% to a record 4,280,377 units, despite a drop in sales in China, Nissan’s largest market. During calendar year 2012, Nissan’s sales in China totaled 1.18 million units, in line with the disappointing sales forecast issued in November. While Nissan, as well as other Japanese automakers, saw a sales decline during a well-publicized territorial dispute between China and Japan that resulted in Chinese government endorsed anti-Japanese demonstrations whose ferocity was compounded by the memory of WW2 Japanese war atrocities, including the Rape of Nanjing, Nissan now claims that showroom traffic in China is exceeding last year’s level.

In the U.S., Nissan reported record sales of 1,141,656 units for Nissan and Infiniti brand vehicles, up 9.5% compared with 2011. Nissan brand sales increased 8.2% year-on-year to a record 1,021,779 unit largely based on sales of the new Altima sedan, Rogue crossover and Versa compact car. Nissan’s total market share in the US was 7.9%.

In 2012, five out of the top ten vehicles sold in Mexico were Nissan, as the company posted both record sales and market share. Sales climbed 9.3% to 245,634 units while market share reached 24.9%.

In Brazil, where Nissan plans to build its first plant in Resende in 2014, Nissan sold a record 104,711 units, up 56% compared with the previous year. Nissan was Brazil’s fastest-growing brand for the third straight year. The company’s market share reached 2.9%, up 0.9 percentage points.

In Europe, Nissan posted a record market share thanks to strong sales of the Qashqai and Juke crossovers. Although sales fell 2.4% to 678,697 units amid the overall downturn in the market, Nissan’s market share edged up 0.1 percentage point to a record 3.9%.

Sales in the UK rose 10% to a record 118,211 units while market share rose 0.3 percentage points to 5.2%, also a record. In Russia, Nissan’s top market in Europe, sales rose 11.7% to 162,956 units. Market share stood at 5.6%.

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