By on May 12, 2012

Ford wanted to hire Carlos Ghosn instead of Mulally. Ghosn said no. Kerkorian wanted Ghosn to save GM, Wagoner prevented it. For you, dear TTAC reader, Carlos Ghosn is available.

Chief of Nissan and Renault, Ghosn is the ultimate rock star of the industry. He is the master of the unprepared remark. Any of his statements, delivered with French-Brazilian-Lebanese flair and his trademark gesticulations, is more profound than thousands of PowerPoints delivered by overpaid management consultants. Today, absolutely free of charge, Carlos Ghosn lets us in on the secrets of running a successful car company.

Carlos Ghosn on strategy

“You need a good strategy. If you don’t have a good strategy, no matter how much scale you have, you will achieve nothing. After the good strategy you need to have a good management team. We are people, we make decisions all the time, and if you make the wrong decisions, no matter how big your scale is, you are not going in the right direction. Once you have a good strategy and a good team, then the difference is made by scale.”

Carlos Ghosn on scale

“The car business is a business of scale. An 8 million car company will be doing much better than a 3 million car company. Some companies have scale by themselves, some don’t. Is it impossible for those to get scale? No. Alliances are a very good way. Small or medium-sized companies join forces, and all of a sudden, they benefit from scale.”

Carlos Ghosn on what a car company needs

“In our business you need a vision, then you need a strategy, then you need a budget, and then you need results. You can’t have a vision that is different from the strategy, and a strategy that is different from the budget, and a budget that is completely different from the results.”

Carlos Ghosn on the economy

“Let’s not forget, this year will be another record year for the industry. Even though the European market is struggling, even though the growth in the U.S. is not at the level that everybody is expecting, compared to 2011, our forecast is that there will be 3 to 4 million additional cars produced and sold on the planet in 2012. Obviously, the growth will not be balanced. There will be strong growth in China, there will be strong growth in the new emerging markets, you will have growth in the U.S. no matter what, Japan is also going to see a growing market. Europe will be decreasing, but overall, it will be a good year for the industry, particularly if you are well positioned to contribute to the growth where it is taking place.”

Carlos Ghosn on emerging markets

“The companies that had the most resilience in the crisis that started in 2008 are the companies with a heavy presence in the emerging markets.  Companies that are mainly focused on Europe, or mainly on the U.S., they struggle more than companies that are in China, in Russia, in India, in Brazil. Those BRICs are not emerging markets anymore. They are emerged markets. They are some of the biggest markets in the world already. The new emerging markets are Indonesia, Vietnam, some countries in Africa, some countries in the Middle East. This is where you need to be positioned, if you have a car company. Not being there is the biggest risk.”

Carlos Ghosn on politics

“We are in the car business. We are not in politics. Countries have their rules, and if you want to do business in a country, you need to abide by its rules. If you don’t like the rules – easy. Don’t do business there.”

(The  last statement was made during a Q&A session at the Beijing Auto Show. A reporter wanted a statement about China’s policies. When I came back to the hotel, the audio file was wiped off the recorder. Instead of suspecting foul play, I blame my own stupidity. The statement remains permanently recorded in my head – in a paraphrased way.)

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12 Comments on “Quotations From Chairman Carlos Ghosn...”


  • avatar
    MeaCulpa

    Heads up.
    “This is where you need to be positioned, if you hae a car company. Not being there is the biggest risk.” Missing V?

    Carlos Ghosn looks like a real life version of Zantafio*, the cousin and nemesis of Fantasio*. Me nerd!?

    *http://www.bdcentral.com/Spirou/perso_contenu.php?No=40
    **Best known for Spirou et Fantasio and later Gaston

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Carlos Ghosn can bed any Japanese Woman he wants. He’s that popular.

      In Japan, there’s manga marketed to women featuring caricatures of Ghosn.

      Carlos Ghosn successfully petitioned the Japanese Government to put ban Chuck Norris from entering Japan.

  • avatar
    jandrews

    Part of me wants to say these are all no-brainers.

    But then I remember:

    - A large percentage of the human population is not very bright.
    - Nissault is doing very well these days from a numbers standpoint.

    So, I guess I’ve got nothing to say.

    • 0 avatar

      Trouble is, the big American automakers, run by some very bright people, seem to have forgotten things like this.

      When Mutally took over Ford, he said a lot of the same stuff. People listened, and Ford hasn’t been the same since, in a very good way.

      When I read the book, I was surprised how simple the Ford turnaround really was. Surprisingly few people had to be dismissed. He changed power dynamics within the organization so they would work for the good of the company. He created incentives for executives to tell the truth.

      So don’t underestimate the worth of true statements that people have been evading. They are extremely important, even if they seem simple and trite.

      D

  • avatar

    boss read

  • avatar
    Pch101

    In practice, mergers, acquisitions and “alliances” often go badly. About half of the time, they either destroy shareholder value or create none to speak of. Many of those that don’t fail outright aren’t particularly successful.

    The Renault-Nissan alliance has worked reasonably well because there is very little market overlap between them. They can share platforms, etc. without cannibalizing each other. Not every automaker is in a similar position.

    • 0 avatar
      MeaCulpa

      I would put it more bluntly, as a rule of thumb the only ones that gains anything from a merger or acquisition are, and in this order: 1 The management who finds itself running a larger corporation and thereby “deserving” higher compensation. 2 The consultants from McKinsey that fiddles with the numbers to make it seem appealing pre-deal, and consults on the integration post-deal. 3 The banks that provides financial services and also fiddles with the numbers producing solvency and balance sheet statements. 4 The Lawyers who can bill through the nose for their cheapest most junior employees doing due diligence work.
      The share holder ends up worse of as the projected overhead savings turns out to be nowhere to be found. Heck in the golden days of M&A you only had to adjust the expected interest rate by .1% in the discounted cash flow analysis to go from zero to hero.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Hi Carlos words from a snotty pipsqueak who doesn’t venerate messiahs.

    Ford – Henry
    Apple – Steve
    RNA – Carlos

    Cult of the personality rides a crest.

    “Countries have rules, easy, if you don’t like the rules – don’t do business there..”

    Easy there Carlos you do business in America & China & elsewhere because the markets are too big to be ignored. But the gang rules against the likes of Cuba & Taiwan and elsewhere? Best to learn from Henry, Carlos – stay out of politics altogether. Learn from Steve that no matter how brilliant, how successful there is always mortality.

    Bertel did you chance words with Carlos about the Sentra and CVT’s?

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    His part about emerging markets, in that case I think he’s seeing more truth there than people care to admit. I think he’s right you need to be in these other countries. Looking past China and to the future.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    I would say that the Nissan-Renault merger has gone better than “reasonably well”. Ghosn seems to tell the truth. And walk the walk. The products show it. Which is why Nissan is my favorite car company. Please bring back the Datsun pickup, Carlos. It could be a version of the Cube. (I have sent my request to Nissan also.)

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Kudos to the man for driving the synergy of two very unique companies and cultures. Quite remarkable.

    Unfortunately, there is little to nothing in the Nissan stable that interests me….

  • avatar
    replica

    YES! More Ghosn pictures.


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