Nissan Motor Co. posted a wider loss in the latest fiscal year, as onetime charges left the automaker in the red for the seventh time in eight years.

The company reported Friday a group net loss of 684.4 billion yen, or $6.31 billion, for the fiscal year ended March 31 versus a loss of 27.7 billion yen a year earlier.

Sales for the year dropped 9.2 percent to 5.977 trillion yen, or $55.1 billion, as a decline in Japan and Europe outweighed an increase in North America.

The loss resulted from a one-time charge of 711.1 billion yen, or $6.55 billion, mostly to make up for a shortfall in its pension fund and to cover losses from the closure of some of its plants.

Renault, which in May bought a 36.8 percent stake in Nissan, will take charge of 376.5 million euros, or $336.2 million, against its earnings because of Nissan's losses.

Nissan President Carlos Ghosn, the former Renault executive dispatched to turn around the Japanese automaker, has vowed to return the company to profit in the current fiscal year that ends March 31, 2001.

As part of a restructuring plan Ghosn announced in October, Nissan will shutter three auto assembly factories and two parts plants in Japan, eliminating 16,500 jobs.

The company said it will post a profit of 60 billion yen in the current fiscal year -- its first in four years -- by cutting purchased parts costs and increasingly sharing vehicle development expenses with Renault.

Nissan's group operating income fell 24.8 percent to 82.6 billion yen, or $761.2 million, because of the yen's rise against the U.S. dollar and falling vehicle sales at home and in Europe.

The yen averaged 112 per dollar during the year, a rise of 16 yen from the previous year's average of 128 yen. A strong yen decreases the value of dollar-based profits earned overseas.

Nissan sold 2.42 million vehicles worldwide last year, down from 2.58 million units a year earlier. Domestic sales dropped 13.2 percent to 758,000 vehicles and 8.9 percent to 501,000 in Europe. But sales rose 11.1 percent in the U.S. and Canada to 730,000 units.