Nissan may exit Korea as sales dwindle toward zero, the FT reports

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Nissan may exit Korea as sales dwindle toward zero, the FT reports

Nissan may stop selling cars in Korea, according to a story in the Financial Times.

The newspaper reported Saturday that the Yokohama-based company is considering the move amid tensions between Korea and Japan, and as it struggles more generally and is considering a restructuring of its marketing efforts globally.

According to the Korea Automobile Importer & Distributors Association (KAIDA), sales for Nissan cars in the country fell 88 percent to 58 units in August from 459 a year earlier.

Sales for all Japanese cars in Korea dropped 57 percent during the same period to 1,398 units from 3,247 units in August 2018.

Due to growing calls among Koreans to boycott Japanese goods, Nissan Korea canceled a test drive event for the new Altima for reporters in July and instead released its flagship sedan by published statement.

Nissan Korea, which opened its doors in March 2004, has been struggling in the local market due to fierce competition against Toyota and Honda. Its market share fell from 2.39 percent last year to 0.32 percent.

Last year, Nissan Korea reported an operating loss of 14 billion won ($11.7 million) on 210 billion won in sales, down 25.6 percent from a year earlier.

The possible exit from Korea is also related to Nissan’s on-going restructuring efforts, the Financial Times added. Nissan Motor announced last month that it will reduce its production capacity by 10 percent while cutting 12,500 workers by 2022.

Japan’s second-largest automaker has been trying to strengthen governance and cut costs after a scandal surrounding former Chairman Carlos Ghosn.

The Japanese automaker reduced Rogue SUV orders booked with the Renault Samsung Motors factory in Busan from 100,000 units to 60,000 in March, citing concerns in quality and stable delivery.

France’s Renault Group owns 43.4 percent of Nissan and 80.1 percent of Renault Samsung Motors.

Renault’s Korean subsidiary has been in dispute with its workers over wages and started accepting voluntary retirements Thursday as it is heading for a human resources overhaul.

Nissan Korea did not respond to requests for comment Sunday.

BY KO JUN-TAE [ko.juntae@joongang.co.kr]

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