Nissan to Return to Detroit Auto Show in 2012

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Nissan Motor Co. plans to return to the Detroit auto show in 2012 after a three-year hiatus.

The announcement was made Sunday by Carlos Tavares, the Japanese automaker's chairman for the Americas region. Tavares was addressing the Society of Automotive Analysts ahead of the North American International Auto Show, whose opening media day is Monday.

Tavares said the decision is part of Nissan's plans to step up its marketing this year as it continues to expand its vehicle lineup. Nissan, based in Yokohama, is vying against Honda Motor Co. to be Japan's No. 2 automaker after Toyota Motor Corp.

Later this month, Tavares noted that Nissan will enter the minivan segment in the U.S. and Canada with its Quest. And in February, the company plans to enter the commercial van market dominated by General Motors and Ford.

Nissan already launched its Juke sport crossover and zero-emission LEAF electric car late last year. Electric vehicles are a key part of Nissan's growth strategy; Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn has said electric vehicles will make up 10 percent of overall auto sales by 2020.

Tavares noted that Nissan's market share in the United States last year was 7.8 percent, up from 7.4 percent the previous year. But he also noted that the strength of the Japanese yen continues to drag profitability.

To minimize the effect of unfavorable currency rates, Nissan has taken the lead among Japanese automakers in shifting production abroad, moving production of the popular March for the Japanese market to Thailand last year.

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