Nissan may be a Japanese automotive brand now in its 80th year, but the Nissan of today is vastly different and far more diverse than it has ever been.
At the Nissan 360 event in Los Angeles, the brand’s global head of product communications, Victor Nacif, boasted that more than 50 percent of Nissan’s management team is no longer Japanese.
Nissan, which is under the watchful eye of renown French-Lebanese-Brazilian CEO Carlos Ghosn, has been in an alliance with French manufacturer Renault (which owns 36.7 percent of the Japanese company) since 1999.
Ghosn was appointed the CEO of Nissan in June 2001, a time when the Japanese brand had $20 billion in debts and was seen as a sinking ship. It took Ghosn just one year to turn Nissan to profitability and within three years it was one of the most profitable car companies in the world.
The departure from traditional Japanese business mentality was the saving grace for Nissan, which rid itself of “keiretsu” – a Japanese operating model of buying parts only from suppliers that have cross-holdings in the company – and changed its official language from Japanese to English.
Today the Nissan-Renault alliance forms one of the largest automotive companies in the world, leading the world in electric vehicles on one-side and performance cars on the other.
Ghosn’s radical shift in company operations made him a hero in Japan, which led to his appointment as CEO of Renault in 2005. Making him the first person in history to control two companies on the Fortune Global 500 simultaneously.
In recent times Nissan has bet big on electric cars, setting itself up for a zero emission and zero fatality future.
“We seek to contribute to a sustainable society. It sounds like an impossible target, but it’s really the correct goal and we strive to get to it as close as possible.” Nacif said.
Despite its move away from traditional Japanese business mentality, Nissan has kept its core DNA pure. The company’s chief operating officer, Toshiyuki Shiga, said that three fundamental Japanese values remain. ‘Monozukuri’, working to constantly improve. ‘Omotenashi’, hospitality to the customers and ‘Hitozukuri, development of the team.
Under its Power 88 strategy, Nissan aims to have eight percent marketshare and eight percent profitability by 2016.