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Nissan’s Ghosn Warns of US Auto Market Downturn

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Nissan-Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn

Carlos Ghosn is the venerated leader of Renault and Nissan, and both positions give him a deep understanding of the intricacies of the global auto market. As Nissan prepares to acquire a major piece of one of its competitors, the Mitsubishi Motor Corp, Ghosn has a warning for auto world, especially the smaller automakers. A downturn is coming in the US market, and it could separate the strong from the weak very swiftly.

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Automotive News reports that Ghosn predicts the downturn will come when the US market plateaus before it inevitably declines, and that the decline will show which automakers are truly ready to compete. Many of his comments seem to be aimed at smaller upstart manufacturers that have benefited from (and leaned on) a strong American market, such as Subaru and Mazda. Compared to the likes of Nissan, VW, Toyota, Ford, and GM, these automakers have failed to appeal to broader audiences around the world, and could suffer if their niche consumers can’t afford to buy its cars anymore.

Ghosn also commented that more restrictive emissions guidelines and the advent of autonomous driving and tech-savvy cars could also eliminate smaller automakers from the market, as they do not have the research funds and resources needed to develop these systems. The only way they can survive is through partnerships with larger companies (like Nissan).

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He remarked that “Maybe your vulnerability is not going to show immediately, but it’s going to show with time. If you ask me for one specific thing: Wait until the U.S. market turns down.”

I’m not surprised at Ghosn’s warning. While cars on the road in America are, on average, still much older than normal, automakers are reporting record sales month after month. We’re going to hit a point soon where the customers in a position to purchase a new car will have done so, and sales numbers will fall until it’s time for drivers to replace their current rides. Time will tell how drastic this slowdown could be, or if it ever comes to pass.

News Source: Automotive News (subscription required)