YOKOHAMA – Nissan Motor Co. reported a 70 percent profit tumble on Tuesday and cut its full-year outlook to an 11-year low as the automaker continued to grapple with falling sales and the aftermath of the ouster of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn. Operating profit at Japan's second-biggest automaker by sales came in at ¥30 billion ($274.98 million) during the July-September period versus ¥101.2 billion a year earlier. That compared with a mean forecast of ¥47.48 billion from nine analyst estimates compiled by Refinitiv and marked its worst second-quarter performance in a decade and a half. Nissan, whose financial performance has been in the doldrums for nearly two years, cut its forecast for operating profit to ¥150 billion in the year through March 2020, from a previous forecast of ¥230 billion. The new forecast means earnings for the full year will be at their worst in 11 years.
Nissan will start testing its self-driving taxi service Easy Ride in a few days in hopes of launching it in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The automaker and Tokyo-based mobile developer DeNA will begin ferrying passengers in Yokohama on March 5th. Nissan's autonomous cars will only be able to drive them along a set route, a 2.8-mile-long stretch of road between Nissan's HQ and the Yokohama World Porters shopping center. But they'll at least be able to give the Easy Ride app's features a try during their trip.
Stuttgart, Germany, and Yokohama, Japan – Automated driving technology is gradually providing more and more assistance to the driver – with the future aim of the car being able to take complete control. But there is more to it than that: "We want to make cars better drivers than people, and in this way to increase road safety. In other words, technology has to work more reliably than people," says the Bosch management board member Harald Kröger. That presents a major challenge, particularly in terms of surround sensing. The sensing system needs to provide the data and information of what is going on around the vehicle to enable the automated vehicle to choose the appropriate driving decision under the circumstances from a safety standpoint.
The companies aim to officially launch a full service in the early 2020s. The world has yet to see a hailing service for a self-driving taxi, so "we are going to learn about some of the things that maybe we can't foresee without actual testing," said Ogi Redzic, senior vice president of the existing alliance among Nissan, Renault SA of France and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., during a news conference in Yokohama. The field experiment for the self-driving taxi service, which will be named Easy Ride, will take participants on a 4.5 kilometer electric vehicle tour around Nissan's headquarters in the Minato Mirai area of Yokohama between March 5 and March 18. Although this is an autonomous driving experiment, someone will be sitting in the driver's seat because an existing law bans driving without anyone in front of the wheel. But the person will just be seated there and let the car drive itself, the companies said.
The struggle for the leadership of embattled Nissan Motor Co. ended in an uneasy compromise, as the top contenders all got senior roles. The carmaker's directors tapped Makoto Uchida, 53, the head of its China joint venture, as chief executive officer, to work alongside new Chief Operating Officer Ashwani Gupta and Jun Seki, the new deputy COO. These three were all on the shortlist a week ago. One factor in the decision was suggested by Chairman Yasushi Kimura at a news conference at Nissan's headquarters in Yokohama late Tuesday. By adopting a collective-style leadership, the board ensures that no one can dominate decision-making, a clear reference to ousted leader Carlos Ghosn's outsized influence over Nissan and its alliance with top shareholder Renault SA.