Almost a year after the Carlos Ghosn scandal broke – and just two weeks after being announced as the new global boss of Nissan – Makoto Uchida has promised to “restore trust” in the company.
In a brief address to media on the eve of the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, Uchida-san, pictured above, said: “There is a lot of challenges that Nissan is facing, but it’s my job to listen to the customer’s voice and (the voice of) business partners and employees, and using my experience to lead Nissan to be a much stronger, a much better company and restore its trust.”
It has been a turbulent year for Nissan. Former CEO Carlos Ghosn was arrested and detained in Japan after being accused of misusing company funds and under-reporting his income and bonuses. Mr Ghosn is fighting those charges.
Last month Mr Ghosn’s former second in charge executive, Hiroto Saikawa, who had been appointed CEO after Mr Ghosn’s arrest, stepped down from his position after also being accused of receiving an “improperly inflated bonus”.
Against this backdrop, Nissan announced in July its first-quarter operating profit was down 99 per cent from last year, and it planned to cut up to 10 per cent of its workforce, according to the Japanese news agency Nikkei.
Nissan sales globally were down 3.7 per cent in the first eight months of this year, and down by 6.5 per cent so far this Japanese financial year (since April 2019).
In Australia, Nissan sales are down by 12 per cent year-to-date in a market that has slumped by 7.9 per cent over the same period.
Uchida-san won’t formally take up his position as the global CEO of Nissan until 2020 “at the latest”; in the meantime he will continue in his current role as the head of the company’s operations in China.
“As I’m still holding the position of China... once I have been appointed as the new (global) CEO and taking the position I would like to (take) your feedback for our study and make Nissan a much better company,” he told global media, before being whisked off stage.
Makoto Uchida has worked for Nissan since 2003. He was appointed CEO of Nissan in China in 2018.
Japan’s Nissan and French carmaker Renault formed an unlikely alliance in 1999, sharing engines and underbodies – items that customers rarely see on the surface – to share costs across more models.
Fellow Japanese carmaker Mitsubishi announced a “strategic partnership” with the Renault-Nissan group in 2016 but formally became “an equal partner” in the alliance in 2017.
Meanwhile, Ashwani Gupta, the chief operating officer at Mitsubishi and a former executive at Renault, was named Nissan’s chief operating officer at the same time as Uchida-san’s announcement.
The co-operation between the three companies means, for example, that the next generations of the Mitsubishi Triton and Nissan Navara utes will be “twins under the skin” and Renault could also spawn a pick-up.
In another example of how the co-operation is interned to work: all three brands will share engines and underpinnings of their next generation small and mid-size SUVs.