Nissan aiming higher than 10% of US auto market

Renault-Nissan is aiming for more than a 10 percent share of the US auto market, the alliance's boss Carlos Ghosn told AFP on the heels of encouraging sales figures.

"We want to reach 10 percent then we will set a goal" for a bigger market share, "but first we need to reach (10%) for more than one consecutive month," said Carlos Ghosn, Renault-Nissan Alliance's chief executive.

He spoke with AFP before the rollout at the 2012 New York International Auto Show of what Nissan is advertising as New York's taxi of the future.

Nissan's figures released Tuesday show its US sales rose 12.5 percent in March compared with a year earlier to 136,317 units, or what the company calls "a record month in company history."

Nissan held sixth place in the US auto market in March, beating Honda, whose sales fell 8.4 percent to 126,999 units.

Nissan controlled 9.7 percent of the US market share in March, surpassing Honda's 9 percent and beating Honda for the first time in the United States, according to the consulting firm Autodata.

General Motors posted figures showing it held 16.4 percent of the US market in March, compared with 15.9 percent for Ford, 14.5 percent for Toyota and 11.4 percent for Chrysler.

Nissan's figures for the United States did not compensate for falling sales in Europe, Ghosn said.

"Our primary market is the Chinese market, then the Japanese market followed by the American market," he said.

The partnership relies heavily on sales growth in developing countries, Ghosn said.

"I do not expect a restructuring in Europe because the situation is frozen," he said. "The results are bad in Europe. It really would be disturbing if it were to persist."

Asked about the alliance of rivals Renault, PSA Peugeot and General Motors, Ghosn said he would not be surprised if the companies cooperate in additional projects, which he said is "not a hazard but a reality."

"That's why our alliance must continue to work to extract even more synergies," he said.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance has "no need" for additional partners but is willing to consider other business opportunities, Ghosn said.

"With eight million cars, we have the scale we need but if someone brings us interesting opportunities, we will take them," he said.

Among the opportunities the alliance is exploring is the US hybrid market.

"I think it will grow in the United States" as supplies of hybrids increase and gasoline prices rise, Ghosn said.

Meanwhile, it was new models of New York taxis that brought Ghosn to a meeting with reporters in New York.

Nissan has been chosen to replace all 13,000 New York taxis with its modified commercial vans.

"For Nissan to be chosen as the sole provider of New York taxi cabs, it means we really had to show a product that is superior," Ghosn said. "We're very proud of this product."

He said about 600,000 people per day would ride in the taxis.

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