Nissan Motor has posted a third fiscal quarter consolidated net loss after tax of JPY83.2bn (US$0.81bn, EUR0.55bn), compared to net income of JPY132.2bn ($1.28bn, EUR0.87bn) in the same period a year ago.

Net revenue was off 34.4% to 1.8165 trillion yen ($17.65bn, EUR12.02bn). Operating loss was JPY99.2bn ($0.96bn, EUR0.66bn) and ordinary loss JPY112.7bn ($1.1bn, EUR0.75bn).

Nissan said the losses were “driven by the severe downturn in the global economy in the second half of calendar year 2008 and, in particular, the negative impact of the strong yen, the sharp decline in consumer confidence in all major markets and product mix deterioration”.

It was the latest Japanese automaker to post grim Q3 results – last Friday Toyota Motor reported a staggering 160% year on year fall in operating profits to JPY360.6bn for the period and also revised its full year forecasts of operating and net losses to JPY450bn and JPY350bn, respectively.

Nissan Q3 vehicle sales fell 18.6% to 731,000 units.

For the nine-month April-to-December 2008 period, net income after tax was down 87.5% year on year to JPY43.2bn ($0.42bn, EUR0.29bn), on net revenue off 14.7% to 6.6858 trillion yen ($64.97bn, EUR44.25bn). Operating profit fell 84% to JPY92.5bn,  operating profit margin was 1.4% and ordinary profit was also down 84% to JPY90bn.

Globally, Nissan sold 2,633,000 vehicles in the first nine months, down 3.0%.

Citing “the worsening state of the global economy and associated deterioration in global auto markets”, Nissan has further revised its full fiscal year 2008 forecast and now expects consolidated net revenues of 8.3 trillion yen ($80.66bn, EUR54.93bn); operating loss of JPY180bn ($1.75bn, EUR1.19bn); ordinary loss of JPY190bn ($1.85bn, EUR1.26billion); and net loss of JPY265bn ($2.58bn, EUR1.75bn).

Nissan had projected a JPY270bn operating profit three months ago. Consensus forecasts from 19 analysts polled by the Reuters news agency had put the loss at JPY70bn.

Last week, Toyota Motor Corp tripled its annual operating loss forecast citing a faster-than-expected sales slump in the main U.S., Japanese and European markets.

Honda Motor also cut its forecast last month, but expects to stay in the black.

“Earnings are going to be bad at automakers for some time,” Tomomi Yamashita, senior fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management, told Reuters.

“You’ve got the currency problem and the amount of production adjustment that’s ahead,” he said, adding that automakers could be in the red for a few more quarters.

Nissan now plans to cut production this fiscal year by 20% and axe 20,000 workers group-wide by the end of March 2010, mostly through natural attrition in Japan.

“In every planning scenario we built, our worst assumptions on the state of the global economy have been met or exceeded, with the continuing grip on credit and declining consumer confidence being the most damaging factors,” said Nissan president and CEO Carlos Ghosn in a statement. “Looking forward, our priority remains on protecting our free cash flow and taking swift, adequate and impactful [sic] actions to improve our business performance.”