TOKYO – As Japan's top automobile executives gathered at an industry event in Tokyo to kick off the new year, Nissan COO Toshiyuki Shiga said he's expecting growth in 2013, citing the weaker yen and an improving outlook in China.
Global Media Center: We've seen Shinzo Abe voted in as Japan's new Prime Minister and its effect on the yen, which has weakened to around 88 yen to the dollar. Do you expect this trend to continue?
Toshiyuki Shiga COO: The new administration of Prime Minister Abe clearly shows that the government will focus more on the economy [and] economic growth. Today, when I attended the economic association's big new year's party, everybody was very excited. And now the yen has weakened and stock prices are increasing but these are still expectations.
But we are sure that Japan's new government will take appropriate action to boost the Japanese economy. This is the current environment, which is very exciting.
Global Media Center: Nissan's plans to have 15% market share in Japan. What are the opportunities for domestic growth this year?
COO: We have very strong new models, like the Note, Serena and other SUV models. Unfortunately, now the mini car segment in Japan is increasing, and we are constrained in increasing the supply of the mini cars.
However in 2013, we will start the new mini car business in Japan together with Mitsubishi Motors and I think we can solve the supply issues. Also, all the new models will show good performance in sales, so I'm really expecting we can show a bigger presence in the Japanese market.
Global Media Center: China was a big story last year. What can we expect from China in 2013?
COO: I've just received the December sales results and the results were quite good, it was almost 20% increase against November sales results. We are completely in a recovery mode [after a dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands cut sales] and maybe after Chinese New Year we can be back to the normal level of sales.
I hope that the government will take appropriate action to make a more amicable solution for the two countries. After that maybe we can have a more optimistic forecast for the Chinese market.
Global Media Center: Nissan has bold plans to grow globally. How is Nissan going to make this year better than 2012?
COO: 2013 is in the middle of our mid-term plan, Nissan Power 88, and central to it. We have to show that our performance is on track in achieving our goals. We have a very clear strategy – we have the products and the technology, so why not? I think all the Nissan employees will push the accelerator again to further growth all over the world.
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