Exclusive: Nissan plans 30% cut in car output through December as virus hits demand

TOKYO (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co 7201.T is planning a 30% year-on-year cut in global vehicle production through December as falling demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic complicates its turnaround efforts, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

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Japan’s No. 2 automaker plans to produce around 2.6 million vehicles between April and December, down from 3.7 million during the same period last year, the sources said. Nissan made 4.6 million cars in the financial year ended March.

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity as the information is not public. Nissan, which has yet to announce a sales forecast for this financial year, declined to comment on its production plans.

Global automakers are struggling after factories were shuttered earlier this year to stem the spread of the pandemic.

Car dealerships were also closed in many countries, pummelling vehicle sales in March through May, although the fall in sales slowed in June as economies started to reopen.

The pandemic has been particularly difficult for Nissan, which was already grappling with falling sales and a deteriorating cash position. In May, it unveiled a far-reaching restructuring plan after posting its first annual loss in 11 years.

In the first two months of this financial year, the maker of the Rogue SUV and the Leaf electric car made around 307,000 vehicles globally, down 62% from last year, according to monthly production figures.

It will announce June output figures next month.

Nissan is planning for production to increase from 510,000 vehicles in the first quarter to around 930,000 in July-September, the sources said. Second quarter output will be about 25% lower from a year ago, according to Reuters calculations.

Production is expected to increase to around 1.1 million vehicles in October-December, roughly 8% lower on the year.

In July-September, Nissan’s output will be hit hardest at home, falling around 47% from last year, after the automaker said it would cut more shifts at its Japanese assembly plants. Domestic output will recover slightly through December.

Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu and Maki Shiraki; editing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter