Among Japan's Carmakers, Nissan Goes From Profit Leader to Laggard

Big incentives in the U.S. have hurt the automaker’s profit margins
New Nissan vehicles are transported from the body shop along the automated production line at the company’s plant in Sunderland, U.K., on Nov. 27 Photograph by Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Almost two years ago, Nissan Motor led all Japanese carmakers in profits. It was faster than its peers in moving production overseas to counter the stronger yen, expanding into emerging markets, and recovering from the tsunami and other natural disasters in 2011. Today it’s recovering from production delays. Emerging markets are slowing, and it’s missing out on the profit boon from a weaker yen enjoyed by most Japanese exporters. The result: Nissan today has become Japan’s least profitable carmaker.

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