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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 February, 2005, 07:15 GMT
US sales bolster Nissan profits
Nissan factory in Tochigi, Japan
Nissan's US sales are accelerating
Japanese carmaker Nissan has seen profits rise as the firm solidified its position in the lucrative US market.

The company reported net profits up 6.9% in the three months to December to 134.2bn yen ($1.27bn; 685m).

Nissan was the fastest-growing major carmaker in the US in 2004, selling 24% more vehicles than the previous year.

Its success comes as larger rival Toyota is shaking up its management to sustain its own solid performance - and as US rivals struggle to boost sales.

Toyota said on Wednesday that it was moving executive vice-president Katsuaki Watanabe, a production and corporate planning expert, up to become president.

He will replace Fujio Cho, during whose tenure Toyota became the world's number two carmaker by sales and who becomes vice chairman.

Current chairman Hiroshi Okuda remains in place.

Asian growth

Nissan's US sales were almost 1 million vehicles last year.

US giants Ford and GM sold many more cars, as did the US arm of DaimlerChrysler - but Ford and GM both lost ground while their Asian rivals accelerated.

On a global scale, Toyota is expected to match GM's sales of almost 9 million units next year.

In comparison, Nissan president Carlos Ghosn has forecast sales of 3.6 million units in the year to September - up a million units from 2001.

Nissan is 44% owned by France's Renault.

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