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Nissan to cut China sales target by 8%; Ghosn trial could start in September


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Nissan to cut China sales target by 8%; Ghosn trial could start in September


* Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. will slash its China sales target by 8%, or over 200,000 units, to 2.39 million vehicles sold by 2022, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the matter. CEO Hiroto Saikawa may also scale back former Chairman Carlos Ghosn's $9 billion investment plan for China as the world's biggest auto market continues to suffer from slumping sales and tariff troubles. The executive plans to "put profitability before growth in sales volume," which could mean no new models will be introduced in China until 2021, the sources told Bloomberg.

* Ousted former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn's trial could begin as early as September, the Nikkei Asian Review reported, citing a source familiar with the matter. Ghosn faces financial misconduct charges, which include ¥31.4 billion in unauthorized payments from Nissan since 1999 and his defense team has sought to accelerate the process. Pretrial sessions could start May 23, which Ghosn reportedly wants to attend, while a schedule of six hearings per month has been proposed for the trial.


* Volkswagen AG's supervisory board will meet March 22 to mediate between the company's management and the head of its works council as the parties appear to be divided over the carmaker's cost-reduction plans, Reuters reported, citing German-language magazine Der Spiegel and a participant at a recent staff gathering. Bernd Osterloh, who is the head of the works council and a member of the supervisory board, reportedly said there could be a confrontation that would "paralyze the company for months" unless Volkswagen's management offered concessions on planned job cuts.

* Renault SA, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. launched their Alliance Intelligent Cloud platform that delivers connected services to their various brands of cars worldwide, according to a joint statement. The alliance will use Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform to securely harness, manage and analyze vehicle data, the joint release said. Vehicles equipped with the Alliance Intelligent Cloud will have internet access, improved remote diagnostics, continuous software deployment, firmware updates and access to infotainment services.

* Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. reported diluted EPS for full year 2018 of 1.37 Chinese yuan, meeting the S&P Global Market Intelligence mean consensus estimate. The Volvo parent reported net profit attributable to shareholders of 12.55 billion yuan for 2018, up 18% year over year but narrowly missing the S&P Global Market Intelligence mean consensus estimate of 12.56 billion yuan. Geely increased its annual dividend to 35 Hong Kong cents per ordinary share, up from 29 Hong Kong cents in 2017.

* Geely-owned Volvo Cars will add in-car cameras and driver assistance systems to its vehicles in the early 2020s to prevent crashes caused by distracted or intoxicated drivers. Volvo drivers will also be able to use "care keys" to set speed limits for their vehicles, the carmaker said. On March 5, Volvo said it will limit the top speed of its cars to 180 kilometers per hour from 2020.

* Audi AG installed a service-water supply center in its Ingolstadt, Germany, plant to recycle up to 500,000 cubic meters of fresh water annually. The Volkswagen brand plans to produce cars with zero liquid discharge by treating its water with a membrane bioreactor, which separates and neutralizes harmful components and metals.


* Ford Motor Co. will invest more than $850 million through 2023 to build fully battery electric vehicles at its assembly plant in southeast Michigan. The Flat Rock assembly plant will produce vehicles built on Ford's next-generation battery electric architecture, but the company did not say which models those would be. The investment in the assembly plant will add about 900 jobs through 2023, the automaker said in a news release.

* Tesla Inc. sold nearly 2,500 Model 3 electric vehicles in Norway in March, a record high in the market. Tesla, which started deliveries in February, has now sold over 3,000 Model 3 sedans in 2019. According to company data, Norway now has 34,720 Tesla autos on its roads.

* Amnesty International called for the electric vehicle industry to create completely ethical batteries within five years, Reuters reported. The organization attacked the industry for its production processes, which have been linked to human rights exploitation and child labor in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Amnesty International added that electric-car makers falsely market themselves as environmentally friendly, despite generating a sizeable carbon footprint and using polluting fuels and unethically sourced cobalt, manganese and lithium.


* Bayerische Motoren Werke AG executives said the company still expects an orderly Brexit and does not anticipate an increase in U.S. tariffs on vehicles manufactured in the European Union but warned that a different outcome to either event could have an effect on the carmaker's guidance for 2019. The comments came at a press conference, during which BMW said it expected pretax profit for 2019 to be "well below" 2018's level. BMW said it is well prepared for both events but has not factored negative outcomes into its current guidance.

* South Korea's Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy will invest 9.5 billion won to establish hydrogen charging stations, Yonhap News reported, citing a statement from the ministry. The stations will be equipped with technologies that can get hydrogen from unused biogas, which could power vehicles and hydrogen electric fuel cell buses.


* Lyft Inc. has made lower insurance costs its "number one initiative," Reuters reported citing CFO Brian Roberts, who was speaking to potential investors on its IPO roadshow. Executives plan to lower costs by prioritizing safer routes over faster ones and by introducing self-driving vehicles on uncomplicated roads. The move is part of Lyft's plan to focus on bringing operation costs down after it made a $911 million loss in 2018.

* Used-car retailer Carvana Co. unveiled a second car vending machine in Bridgeville, Pittsburgh, marking the second in Pennsylvania and the 16th in the U.S. The eight-story building can hold up to 27 vehicles and offers next-day deliveries for customers. Users can sell or buy a used car on Carvana's website.


* U.S. ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies Inc. said it will expand its freight service app to Europe. Uber Freight, which was launched in the U.S. in 2017, matches truckers and shippers while giving drivers upfront pricing and the ability to book a load through its app. The European rollout will start in the Netherlands in the coming weeks, Uber said.

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a mixed opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng declined 0.85% to 29,071.56.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.62% to 7,335.92, and the Euronext 100 rose 0.03% to 1,044.26.

On the macro front

The jobless claims report, the Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook survey, the leading indicators report, the quarterly services survey, the EIA natural gas report, the Fed balance sheet and the money supply report are due out today.

Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

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