Nissan on Monday posted a net loss of 83.2 billion yen ($810 million) for its fiscal third quarter, and said it is putting on hold a program that it launched last September to improve the engineering and production of its cars.

Nissan set up the program, "GT 2012," to work on ways to cut warranty claims and car breakdown rates, among other things. Nissan announced a series of other cost-cutting measures, including plans to cut work and manufacturing hours so that by the end of its current fiscal year on March 30 this year, the production volume would be 20 percent below what it had planned, the company said. That translates into 787,000 fewer cars.

The company also plans to cut its global workforce by 8.5 percent to 215,000 by the end of next fiscal year ending March 30, 2010.

Nissan was quick to point out that it still intends to launch all-electric cars by saying it plans to launch one model between 2009 and 2012. The company didn't specify which year the electric-car model will arrive in showrooms, however. It previously said it would introduce an all-electric model in the United States and Japan in 2010 and in the rest of the world by 2012.

Nissan's partnership with Renault in the form of the Renault-Nissan Alliance is working with battery-swapping and charging station developer Better Place to start selling electric cars in 2011.

The company followed fellow carmakers, large and small, in scaling back and changing operations to survive the economic downturn. Last month, Toyota said it would cut its inventories by shutting down its factories for 14 more days than usual during the current fiscal quarter. Honda said it would halt production at its United Kingdom factory from February to May, two more months than it had initially planned back in November.

The news isn't better from young electric-car makers. Think in Norway is still struggling to raise money to keep going. It received $5.7 million in emergency funding from its investors last month, and has since brought 44 employees back from layoffs, the company said. Tesla Motors in San Carlos, Calif., also has delayed launching Model S while it looks for money to build a new factory to build Model S.

Nissan said it's applying for loans from a $25 billion program administered by the U.S. Department of Energy for retooling factories to make fuel-efficient vehicles, but declined to say how much it's seeking. 

Nissan posted 83.2 billion yen ($810 million) in net loss for the third fiscal quarter ending December 2008, compared with a net income of 132.2 billion yen ($1.28 billion) from the year-ago period. Sagging global economy and a strong yen contributed to the losses, the company said.

The company generated 1.82 trillion yen ($17.65 billion) in revenue for the third fiscal quarter, a 34.4 percent drop from the same quarter a year ago.

Also on Monday, Ford said the first model of its electric-car lineup would be a commercial van (see Green Car Congress post). The all-electric version of its Transit Connect would go on sale in North America next year. Ford plans to build the van with Smith Electric Vehicles.