ad info

TIME Asia Home
Current Issue
Magazine Archive
Asia Buzz
Travel Watch
Web Features
  Photo Essays

Subscribe to TIME
Customer Services
About Us
Write to TIME Asia
TIME Canada
TIME Europe
TIME Pacific
TIME Digital
Latest CNN News

Young China
Olympics 2000
On The Road

  east asia
  southeast asia
  south asia
  central asia

Other News
From TIME Asia

Culture on Demand: Black is Beautiful
The American Express black card is the ultimate status symbol

Asia Buzz: Should the Net Be Free?
Web heads want it all -- for nothing

JAPAN: Failed Revolution
Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori clings to power as dissidents in his party finally decide not to back a no-confidence motion

Cover: Endgame?
After Florida's controversial ballot recount, Bush holds a 537-vote lead in the state, which could give him the election

TIME Digest

TIME Asia Services
Subscribe to TIME! Get up to 3 MONTHS FREE!

Bookmark TIME
TIME Media Kit
Recent awards

TIME Asia Asiaweek Asia Now TIME Asia story
Nissan has been running out of gas since 1985, about the time Halberstam was writing. The company's U.S. sales that year topped 830,000, and the goal was to pass Toyota within a year. Nissan never came close. Its sales in the U.S. have shrunk some 25% since then, and the company has slid to a distant third, behind Toyota and Honda. The story is much the same in Asia. Now, nearly two years into Asia's slump, the automaker's share in Thailand has been almost halved, to 9%, despite major investments in new plants.

Nissan ignored supply and demand at home, too. In the late 1980s, management shelved a restructuring plan in hopes that the company's fortunes would be bolstered by the surging Japanese economy. When the bubble burst in the early 1990s, so did Nissan's profits. In 1993, the company took its first loss and two years later became the first car manufacturer to close a factory in Japan since the end of World War II. Last December, the government-run Japan Development Bank issued $708 million in loans to Nissan. That brought resounding criticism--and inevitable comparisons to Chrysler Corp., which was bailed out by the U.S. government with $1.2 billion worth of loan guarantees in 1980.

The stallout in the U.S. market is typical of Nissan's global difficulties. Last year just about anything with four wheels and a little styling moved off dealers' lots. Yet Nissan's sales dropped off 14.7%, and the company lost money. The firm's managers somehow forgot a golden rule in the auto business: profits are only as good as the last hot product in a fast-changing cycle. The Maxima, Nissan's flagship sedan since the 1980s, is a perennial critics' favorite, but even its fans say it needs a face-lift. So does the Infiniti luxury series. The Altima, Nissan's affordable sedan (about $17,000), is chubby, boring and no match for its nemesis, the Accord, or the new Volkswagen Jetta. This year Nissan's only brand-new offering is the Xterra sport utility vehicle. Hot, say critics, but alone. "They've tarnished their image," says Bill Seltenheim, an analyst with Autodata in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey. "Everyone knows if you want to buy a Nissan, all you have to do is wait for the next incentive program."

The problem: instead of allowing designers to work their magic, bureaucrats in Tokyo have been dictating, Henry Ford-like, what is good for the customer. The lesson, of course, is that in the 1920s Ford almost bankrupted his company that way. Says J. Ferron, one of the auto industry's leading consultants: "There have been times when nobody even bothered to ask whether green cars were selling before they were loaded onto ships."

PAGE 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5


March 8, 1999

Merger Mania
The deals will keep on coming

Change is not entirely foreign to Japan

This edition's table of contents | TIME Asia home



U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

Launch CNN's Desktop Ticker and get the latest news, delivered right on your desktop!

Today on CNN

Back to the top   © 2000 Time Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.