Nissan sees earnings slip as higher costs hit profits - despite strong sales overseas

Employees at Nissan working on the Qashqai in Sunderland, as the car maker saw earnings slip into reverse in the third quarter despite notching up strong sales in the US, China and Europe. Picture by PA
Employees at Nissan working on the Qashqai in Sunderland, as the car maker saw earnings slip into reverse in the third quarter despite notching up strong sales in the US, China and Europe. Picture by PA
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Car maker Nissan saw earnings slip into reverse in the third quarter despite notching up strong sales in the US, China and Europe.

The Japanese group - which recently warned that it would review its Sunderland car plant after a Brexit deal - posted weaker-than-expected earnings of 163.5 million yen (£1.16million) for the three months to December 31, down from 192.6 million yen (£1.4million) a year earlier.

Picture by PA

Picture by PA

Nissan sold 1.09million vehicles worldwide during the quarter, up from 1.02 million a year ago, and said it was on track for a 3.3% rise over its full year, to 5.6 million.

But earnings were weighed on by higher marketing and selling costs, as well as a currency hit.

The car giant has been in the spotlight after boss Carlos Ghosn said last month that it would review the competitiveness of its car plant in Sunderland once the final outcome of Brexit negotiations becomes clear.

Nissan announced in October that it was investing in production of new Qashqai and X-Trail models at Sunderland after receiving Government assurances that EU withdrawal would not affect the plant's competitiveness.

It has denied a controversial so-called sweetheart deal with the Government to secure the future of the plant - which makes one in three of all cars manufactured in the UK - but has resisted calls to publish the "letter of comfort" sent by Business Secretary Greg Clark.

The group's figures for the nine months of its year so far show strong demand in the US, China and Europe offset "challenging conditions" in its domestic Japanese market.

In the US, it sold 1.16million vehicles, up 4.2%, while sales rose 8.2% in China and lifted 5.5% across the UK and Europe.

It said demand for the Qashqai SUV and X-Trail helped drive demand across Europe.

The group is forecasting a full-year operating profit of 710billion yen (£5 billion) on sales of 11.8trillion yen (£836billion).

Nissan has also been under pressure earlier this week amid calls for a recall of its 4x4 pick-up truck over fears that they can snap in half.

Owners of Nissan Navaras have reported finding rust which can crack the chassis and more than 15,000 people have joined a Facebook group for drivers concerned about models registered between 2005 and 2011.

Nissan said at the time that it was aware of the issue in a "relatively small number" of previous generation D40 Navaras and has put measures in place to "quickly resolve the concerns of any customers".