Even the foreign car makers are taking a huge hit in the automotive industry.
Nissan is slashing 20,000 jobs, or 8.5 percent of its global work force, to cope with what Japan's third-largest automaker expects will be its first annual loss in nine years.
"The global auto industry is in turmoil, and Nissan is no exception," Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn told reporters Monday in Tokyo.
Nissan Motor Co. now expects a 265 billion yen ($2.9 billion) net loss for the fiscal year through March — joining a raft of other Japanese corporate giants, including Toyota, Toshiba and Sony, in slashing jobs and projecting annual losses.
The last time Nissan racked up an annual net loss was for the fiscal year ended March 2000, at the start of its alliance with Renault SA of France, which sent in Ghosn to rescue Nissan from the brink of collapse. Then, a bloated Nissan had lost money in seven of the previous eight years.
Ghosn, now also chief executive at Renault, said the troubles back then had been limited to Nissan but no automaker has been spared from the global economic slump.
"In 1999, we were alone. In 2009, everybody is suffering," he said.
The maker of the Z sports car and the March compact sank to a loss of 83.2 billion yen for the October-December period from a 132.2 billion yen profit a year earlier. That was its first quarterly net loss since it began reporting quarterly earnings in 2003.
Like other Japanese automakers, Nissan has been battered by the global slump, which has undermined sales in its vital North American market. A strong yen also ate into profits by eroding overseas earnings when converted back to yen.