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Middle Tennessee based Nissan North America faces challanges



FRANKLIN, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  A longtime automotive analyst says that one of Tennessee's largest employers appears poised for solid future growth in spite of current challenges.

Janet Lewis is Managing Director for Tokyo based Macquarie Capital Securities. She notes that Nissan Motors suffered a 14 percent drop in profits last quarter, due mostly to sales declines in the U.S. and Europe.

But Lewis says the falloff can be attributed largely to the fact that Nissan is trying to wean customers off of generous sales incentives.

Lewis notes Nissan faces several other challenges as well. Materials costs are rising, customers are buying fewer sedans, and the company’s supply chain faces major disruptions if President Trump kills the North American Free Trade pact.

“Because at the end of the day, Nissan is primarily supplying sales to the American market through production in Mexico and the United States.”

Lewis says Nissan is also challenged by rapid advances in automotive technology. She notes, however, that Nissan is making careful, steady progress toward the goal of fully autonomous vehicles.

In the area of all electric vehicles, Lewis says Nissan has a real winner in the Leaf built at its Smyrna plant here in Middle Tennessee.

“Which has been the best selling electric vehicle to date. And they have a plan to expand their range of products in the coming years.”

Lewis says Nissan does plan to increase production of light trucks and SUVs, largely to meet customer demand in the U.S. However, she says Nissan will not abandon any of its trademark sedans, as some American automakers say they plan to do.