Nissan Motor Co.'s global sales totaled 5.65 million vehicles last year, while Renault SA of France, which owns 43 percent of Nissan, recorded global sales of 3.9 million vehicles. Nissan owns 34 percent of smaller Japanese rival Mitsubishi Motors Corp., which sold 1.2 million vehicles last year.
The numbers released Wednesday underscore intense competition among the automakers. U.S. automaker General Motors Co. was the No. 1 selling automaker for more than seven decades before losing the title to Toyota in 2008. Its sales have shrunk in recent years, and the Detroit-based automaker is no longer really a contender in what is turning out to be a three-way race.
Nissan, Japan's second biggest automaker, has been rocked by the arrest in November of its former chairman Carlos Ghosn, who was dispatched by Renault in 1999 and led Nissan for two decades. The allegations against Ghosn center around financial misconduct, such as underreporting compensation from Nissan and having Nissan shoulder investment losses. Ghosn has said he is innocent.
Toyota's vehicle sales last year rose 2 percent from 2017; while Nissan's fell nearly 3 percent. Mitsubishi's jumped 18 percent year-on-year, and Renault's sales climbed 3 percent.
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