The Truth About Cars » Carlos Ghosn The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:25:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Carlos Ghosn Ghosn Presents 2020 Autonomous Drive Roadmap Fri, 18 Jul 2014 12:00:37 +0000 Carlos-Ghosn-5112012-10

Before the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan Thursday, Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn issued a roadmap outlining the automaker’s path toward the first autonomous vehicles in 2020.

The Wall Street Journal reports the following steps Renault-Nissan will take towards its 2020 Autonomous Drive target:

  • 2016: The automaker will introduce a traffic jam pilot and fully automated parking systems, the former of which would allow vehicles to safely drive their passengers through rush hour and other congestion scenarios.
  • 2018: Vehicles will use multiple lane controls to safely negotiate road hazards and lane changes.
  • 2020: Vehicles will use intersection autonomy to delivery their passengers safely through intersections without the need for driver intervention.

Ghosn emphasized the difference between his company’s approach to autonomy over those like Google, who are pursuing vehicles that drive themselves:

Autonomous Drive is about relieving motorists of everyday tasks, particularly in congested or long-distance situations. The driver remains in control, at the wheel, of a car that is capable of doing more things automatically. Self-driving cars, by comparison, don’t require any human intervention — and remain a long-way from commercial reality. They are suitable only for tightly-controlled road-environments, at slow speeds, and face a regulatory minefield

He concluded that the 2020 roadmap was only the beginning, with further advancements to come on the momentum generated by the plan.

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Ghosn Top Earner In Japan For Fourth Time In Five Years Wed, 25 Jun 2014 10:00:45 +0000

Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn will once more be graced with the honor of being the highest paid executive at a Japanese corporation, having held the honor three previous times in the past five years.

Bloomberg reports Ghosn made ¥995 million ($9.76 million USD) in salary and bonuses for fiscal year 2013, which ended March 31 of this year; total compensation, including dividends, amounts to ¥10 billion ($9.81 million). This puts the CEO ahead of Toyota president Akio Toyoda, who made four times less than Ghosn despite Nissan eking out a profit amid incentive spending and recall costs in the same period. However, Toyoda’s ¥757 million ($7.42 million) in dividends narrows the gap between the two leaders.

Though Ghosn may be killing it in Japan, his total earnings are outgunned by those of his standing among European and U.S. automakers. Outgoing Ford CEO Alan Mullaly earned $23 million in total compensation last year, while GM CEO Mary Barra may receive as much as $14.4 million at the end of FY 2014. Meanwhile, VW boss Martin Winterkorn took home €15 million ($20 million) and Daimler’s doctor Dieter Zetche made €8.25 million ($11.2 million) in 2013. Renault paid €2.3 million ($3.1 million) to Ghosn, bringing total earnings from the alliance to around $13 million USD..

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Ghosn To Fight For Position Atop Global Three Podium Fri, 09 May 2014 12:00:12 +0000 Carlos Ghosn speaks -07. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt

Re-appointed through 2018 last month by Renault-Nissan shareholders by a margin of 85 percent, CEO Carlos Ghosn has adjusted his sights on Volkswagen, General Motors and Toyota in an effort to take one of their spots as a member of the Global Three.

Automotive News reports the No. 4 automaker has a ways to go before taking the lowest spot on the podium; in 2013, Renault-Nissan moved 8.3 million off the lot behind VW’s 9.73 million, Toyota’s 9.98 million and GM’s 9.71 million. The Franco-Japanese automaker also relies heavily upon its Nissan division for the majority of sales and profits, Nissan having remained the same size as it was when the alliance formed in 1999 while doubling sales and reaping the rewards over the years.

Meanwhile, Renault struggled to move toward its goal of 3 million cars sold globally in 2013, falling 370,000 units short. Stalled sales of the Zoe EV, the loss of COO Carlos Tavares to PSA Peugeot Citroën, and poor handling of the crisis involving high-level executives falsely accused of stealing corporate secrets — leading to the forced departure of previous COO Patrick Pelata — also dinged both Renault and Ghosn.

On the plus side, Ghosn managed to keep Renault’s manufacturing in its native France, with plans to boost local production by 180,000 units by 2016, as well as helped the French brand meet its cash flow target of 2.5 billion euros over the past three years. While the Zoe may have been a bust, Ghosn proclaimed Renault was still the No. 1 seller of EVs in the European market, accounting for 37 percent to 42 percent of the local market; the alliance has an overall 60 percent of the global EV market. Finally, the CEO believes Renault will see 50 billion euros in revenue by 2017, compared to 41 billion euros in 2013.

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Ghosn Talks Platform Sharing, Cost Saving & Teamwork Aspects of Renault-Nissan Alliance Tue, 04 Feb 2014 10:00:13 +0000 Common Module Family (CMF): A New Approach to Engineering for th

Carlos Ghosn, head of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, told the Automotive News that the companies will jointly develop two vehicle platforms that, shared between the two companies, will each provide the basis for more than 3 million vehicles by 2016.


Ghosn predicts that by that year the entire industry will have only five platforms that support that large of a volume and that by 2020, about three quarters of the alliance’s output will be based on just four platforms. In part by sharing platforms the alliance now expects to save 4.3 billion euros ($5.8 billion) by 2016, about $900 million more in cost reductions than originally anticipated. The other part of that savings will come from joint operations in manufacturing, logistics, r&d, purchasing and human resources.

“We are going to be really leveraging better than most of our competitors in size and scale,” Ghosn said to Automotive News. “If you have the right strategy and product, size matters. Size will really protect you from your competition.”

The first of those two platforms is the Common Module Family platform for C and D segment sedans, crossovers and SUVs.

Commenting on why the tie-up between Nissan and Renault has lasted so long when other relationships between automakers have faltered, Ghosn stressed that they deliberately fostered teamwork as opposed to a takeover mentality.

“After 15 years of working together, we are capable today of envisioning things that were practically impossible to execute five years ago,” Ghosn said. “People would have spent their time resisting and explaining why they cannot do it, instead of making it happen.”

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Renault Eyeing Return To Iran When Sanctions Lift Fri, 24 Jan 2014 18:18:40 +0000 Renault Tondar 90. Picture courtesy of Iran Khodro

For the past few months, sanctions against Iran for their nuclear ambitions have sidelined PSA and Renault from the Persian market. Behind the scenes, General Motors outmaneuvered PSA despite their one-time alliance allowing them to muscle their way into aan emerging market via loophole abuse and an unknown quantity of Camaros. With GM out of the way, however, PSA would now be free to regain their footing once sanctions were lifted.

PSA won’t be alone in the upcoming battle, of course, as their compatriots at Renault have plans to return to Iran to reclaim what was lost, and then some.

At the World Economics Forum in Davos, Switzerland this week, Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn announced that Renault would be willing to return to Iran once sanctions were lifted so as to capitalize on the potential 50 percent growth in sales. Currently, the sanctioned market represents between 700,000 to 800,000 vehicles, but could explode to between 1 million and 1.5 million units by the end of the 2010s once the market is freed, benefiting both Renault and PSA due to the popularity of French brands in Iran.

Renault’s departure from the Iranian auto market early last year, was out of fear of non-compliance of the sanctions issued against Iran by the United States, consequences of which would have led to Nissan having a tough time as far as U.S. sales were concerned. The pullout cost Renault 64,500 units worth of sales in the nation — 40,000 less than predicted by French newspaper La Tribune back in late July 2013 — and a first-half provision of $698 million that contributed to a 95 percent plunge in net income from Persian sales in the same period.

The vehicles sold in Iran by Renault consisted of Dacia Logan variants built locally from component kits in a partnership with local manufacturer ICKO.

With the noted presence of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the annual Davos gathering, Ghosn is confident that the “well-engaged” discussions about resuming international ties between Iran and the West are a sign of good things to come for his company, and for all others waiting to stake a claim. Iran’s auto market is expected to explosively to 1 million units, or 50 percent larger than Australia’s own market, by 2020.

Not that Tehran is waiting, of course.

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Nissan May Build Datsuns in Mexico Says Ghosn Wed, 11 Dec 2013 12:15:35 +0000 Datsun_1519061g

Customers in Latin America may soon have another cheap transportation option if Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn decides to build Datsuns in Mexico.

Though Ghosn hasn’t confirmed whether or not production of the Go and Go+ would happen in Mexico, the Latin American market is under consideration, as are markets in South Africa and Russia (the latter via AutoVAZ). Nissan intends to sell the Datsun brand to consumers in low-cost countries where car ownership is generally out of reach for most, but manufacturing the cars in the same markets is another matter due to the brand’s newness.

The current solution: carve from Nissan’s established production lines. This tactic is already being carried out in Chennai, India, where the Go will soon roll into showrooms for around $6,500 in February 2014, and could be used in locales such as the new Aguascalientes, Mexico facility, and the factories under AutoVAZ’s ownership.

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Nissan Shuffles Executive Deck, Changes Global Organizaton. Ghosn Going Nowhere Mon, 04 Nov 2013 12:30:04 +0000 IMG_4402

Carlos Ghosn has shuffled Nissan Motor Co.’s top management, elevating Jose Munoz to head the company in North America, while eliminating the Chief Operating Officer position in the home office. COO Toshiyuki Shiga is becoming vice chairman and the responsibilities of his former job will be split between Hiroto Saikawa, Andy Palmer and Trevor Mann.


Saikawa remains chief competitive officer but will take the reins of the operations committee as well as oversee Nissan’s operations in China. The moves effectively make Saikawa the number 2 executive at the company. Palmer, who currently heads global product planning and marketing will become the chief planning officer and be in charge of global sales, product planning, communications,marketing as well as supervising Nissan’s electric vehicle and battery operations. Mann, currently executive VP in charge of Africa, Europe, Middle East and India, will become chief performance officer and be responsible for all regional units as well as run the low cost Datsun brand globally.

Munoz replaces Colin Dodge, who remains on Nissan’s board of directors and will handle special projects reporting directly to Ghosn.

Nissan is also changing its global organization.  Currently there are three regions: the Americas, Europe-Africa-India-Middle East, and Asia-Pacific. Going forward, there will be six: North America, Latin America, Japan-Southeast Asia, China, Europe and an Africa-India-Middle East unit. Munoz will be in charge of North America. Jose Valls, currently president of Nissan in Mexico, will head Latin America. Saikawa will be in charge of China. Takao Katagiri, now the head of global sales, will be in charge of Japan and Southeast Asia.

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In Wake of Tavares Resignation Ghosn Reorganizes Renault Executive Suite Tue, 10 Sep 2013 12:00:50 +0000 603059_0202994081596_web_tete

Thierry Bolloré, left. Jérôme Stoll, right.

Following the departure of chief operating officer Carlos Tavares, Renault Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn has announced that the company will be adding two new divisions to the existing finance, human resources and CEO office functions. Thierry Bolloré is being appointed Chief Competitive Officer, with responsibilities for Design-Product-Programs, Engineering-Quality-IS/IT, Purchasing, Manufacturing and Supply chain. Bolloré’s replacement as executive vice president in charge of manufacturing and supply chain will be Jose Vicente de los Mozos, reporting to Bolloré. The new position of Chief Performance Officer will be filled by Jérôme Stoll, with responsibilities for Sales & Marketing function, and coordinating Renault’s international operations, which apparently will have more autonomy. Michael van der Sande was named senior vice president for Marketing, replacing Stephen Norman, a member of Renault’s management committee, whose future appointment will be announced separately. Bolloré and Stoll will both report to Ghosn, whose published statement said, “Our objective was to take fast, transparent action by putting in place a clear and simple organization. The aim is threefold: to accelerate and expand our ongoing progress, to ensure performance at Group level and to give the regions more responsibility.”

Biographies after the jump.

Thierry Bolloré started his career in 1990 at Michelin, as shop manager in a heavy truck tire factory. In 1993, he became Chief of process and quality central Group for worldwide heavy truck factories, prior to taking the head of method group for heavy truck business units in Europe, South America, Africa and Asia. In 1997, he moved to Japan, as Industrial Assistant of Michelin Passenger car factory, and to Thailand in1998, as production manager in truck factory, before being named Managing Director of Truck and Aircraft Businesses. He was appointed Vice-President in charge of industry for Michelin Aircraft Business worldwide in 2002. Thierry Bolloré joined Faurecia in 2005 to become Vice President Asia of Exhaust Systems Product Group, based in China, and then Vice-President worldwide in charge of Marketing, R&D, Programs, Strategy, Business Development. In 2010, he moved to Faurecia Emissions Control Technologies, as Vice-President in charge of Europe and South Africa prior to becoming Vice-President worldwide, responsible for Industry, Quality and Purchasing. He joined Renault on October, 15th 2012, he is appointed EVP manufacturing and supply-chain and enters the Group executive committee. On September 10, 2013, he is appointed Chief Competitive Officer.

Jérôme Stoll worked at Renault V.I. from 1980 to 1983, then held a position with the senior management team of Berliet Nigeria, a Renault V.I. subsidiary, between 1983 and 1987. He joined Renault’s Finance Department in 1987 and became finance and administrative director at Renault Automation in 1989. He was named director of industrial purchasing in 1995, then director of powertrain purchasing in 1998. Jérôme Stoll was appointed CEO of Renault Samsung Motors when Renault acquired the firm in September 2000. On 1 May 2006, he took up the post of Mercosur Director and became a member of Renault’s Management Committee. On March 1, 2009, Jérôme Stoll was appointed Leader of the Europe Region Management Committee and he was appointed Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing & Light Commercial Vehicles. On October 1, 2009, he is appointed President of Renault Retail Group. On September 1, 2012, he will focus his action on Sales & Marketing and LCV Division as well as on Renault Retail Group. On September 10, 2013, he is appointed Chief Performance Officer.
Jose Vicente de los Mozos was born on October 15, 1962, and qualified as an aeronautical engineer at Madrid’s Polytechnic University, Spain. He then went on to secure a Master’s Degree in Production Techniques at the CESEM, Madrid. He joined Renault as an apprentice in 1978 before moving on to the engineering team at the Valladolid body assembly plant. In 1993, he moved to France where he held a number of management positions at Renault’s Engineering Division. He then returned to Spain as manager of the stamp shop at the body assembly plant in Valladolid before being named manager of the body and stamp shop in Palencia. In 2003, he joined Nissan Motor Ibérica in Barcelona as deputy Production Director and, in 2005, went on to become the Director of Nissan Motor Ibérica. The following year, he was appointed Vice-President, with special responsibility for all Nissan’s production processes in Spain. In September 2008, he joined automotive supplier FICOSA as general manager of its Automobile Division and held this position until October 2009. After that, he returned to Renault as Director of the Group’s Body Assembly Manufacturing, while at the same time serving as Managing Director of Renault Spain since January 2012. On September 10, 2013, he is appointed Executive Vice-President manufacturing and supply-chain.

Born in the Netherlands in 1965, Michael van der Sande has a MBA from Nyenrode University. He joined Nissan Europe in 1991 and held several marketing and dealer development positions. In 1995, he moved to the United Kingdom to join Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motor Cars as European Marketing Manager. Two years later he was recruited by Harley-Davidson as Marketing Director for Europe, Middle East and Africa. During his twelve years at Harley-Davidson, he held several other marketing, sales, strategy and product planning positions with Harley-Davidson in the UK, Italy and the United States. He was then promoted to Vice-President and Managing Director, with responsibility for all operations in Europe, Middle East and Africa. In 2008, Mr van der Sande joined Tesla Motors as SVP, Sales, Marketing and Service, before being recruited by Aston Martin in 2009 as Chief Commercial Officer, in charge of all sales, marketing, service, parts, retail and merchandising operations globally. On October 1st, 2013, he is appointed Senior Vice-President Marketing of Renault group.

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The Truth About Tavares Slowly Slips Out Fri, 30 Aug 2013 11:30:04 +0000 jpg (3)

The departure of Carlos Tavares is barely 24 hours old, but we’re already getting reports of the genesis of Tavares’ exit, which was only partially brought about by his public courting of North American OEMs.

A report by Bloomberg claims that Tavares also sought expanded responsibilities from CEO Carlos Ghosn as part of his role as COO

Tavares wanted to expand his responsibilities beyond purely operational decision-making to include oversight of areas such as human resources and legal matters, one of the people said. 

Ghosn, who is also the CEO of alliance partner Nissan Motor Co., turned him down and offered to let him stay as COO, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks were private. Tavares, who would have still reported to Ghosn under his proposal for a broader role, decided instead to seek a top post elsewhere, they said.

Tavares, who assumed the role two years ago, negotiated a crucial deal with French unions that saw domestic assembly plants preserved in exchange for a nearly 20 percent reduction in the workforce. Tavares also achieved similar labor cost reductions at Nissan’s North American unit.

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Renault-Nissan To Launch Modular Architecture For Low-Cost Cars Wed, 17 Jul 2013 12:00:47 +0000

Click here to view the embedded video.

In India for the relaunched Datsun brand’s first car, the Go, CEO of the Renault-Nissan alliance, Carlos Ghosn, announced that Renault and Nissan will jointly develop a platform for low cost and ultra low cost cars aimed at India and other emerging markets, which Ghosn believes will make up 60% of the global automotive market by 2016. To do that, the alliance will spend another $5 billion on investments in their Indian operations over the next five years. Renault-Nissan is committed to using India as its global hub for emerging markets, developing the cars there as well as assembling and exporting them.


Renault-Nissan’s CMF Architecture

The new low cost cars will reach the market in 2015 and be engineered from the CMF-A platform, an iteration of the alliance’s  recently announced Common Module Platform. The CMF-A platform will be used across the alliance at the Renault, Nissan and Datsun brands. Don’t expect a CMF-A based Infiniti, as the platform is engineered for low cost, not luxury. The variant of the CMF was developed in India itself. Speaking to The Hindu at an event in Chennai, Ghosn said

We see India easily being in the top five markets for Renault and in the top ten markets for Nissan in future… The new platform was Indian designed, Indian engineered and made for Indians. This platform has been built ground up jointly by Renault and Nissan and it will be state-of-the-art and most innovative… We are breaking new ground with CMF-A to meet and exceed the high standards of consumers in the world’s fastest growing economies, particularly people buying a new car for the first time,.. Our frugal car will be at entry-level prices, if you understand what I mean. Our intention is to come out with a car that will be totally modern, Indian engineered and not have outdated technology, but let’s make it clear, we don’t want to compare ourselves to the Tata Nano, or benchmark against it.”

Much of the money for their investments in India will apparently come from the savings that Renault and Nissan are achieving through things like shared development costs. Christian Mardrus, Renault-Nissan managing director for logistics, said that the two companies together will save $4.57 billion (3.5 billion euros) in 2015 alone.

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Datsun Go Live Shots Tue, 16 Jul 2013 12:38:15 +0000 IMG_2917

Live shots of the Datsun Go, courtesy of our man Faisal Ali Khan of India’s

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Datsun Is “Go”, Frills Are A “No” Mon, 15 Jul 2013 14:41:34 +0000 datsungo


The wraps are finally off the first Datsun in decades – dubbed the Go, this will be Nissan’s major push into low cost motoring, with a starting price under $6,700.

Power comes from a 1.2L 4-cylinder engine mated to a 5-speed gearbox. At 149 inches long, the Go isn’t much bigger than a Fiat 500, but will apparently have proper seating for 5 passengers. Agility in traffic and a small footprint for congested roads is the priority here, and with many customers expected to be moving up from motorcycles and scooters, the small size is still more comfortable than cramming multiple people onto the back of a two-wheeled vehicle.

India, Indonesia and Russia will be the initial launch markets, and production will be localized for all three. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn told Automotive News that low-cost cars account for 40 percent of the market in those three countries, but until now, Nissan lacked a proper entry (though Renault’s Dacia certainly would qualify). Nissan is also aiming for 10 percent market share in India by 2016.

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Ghosn Issues VW-Like Sales Goal To America Mon, 13 May 2013 12:00:39 +0000 Carlos Ghosn. Photo courtesy Bertel Schmitt.

Weaker than expected growth in the United States has led Carlos Ghosn to issue an even more ambitious goal; double Nissan’s sales by 2017.

Nissan North America sold 1,141,656 vehicles in the United States last year, with just over 1 million of those vehicles coming from the Nissan brand. To achieve Ghosn’s goal, Nissan will have to post 18 percent gains every year for the next four years.

Automotive News reports that some of the blame has been placed on production issues, while Nissan is also looking to boost efficiencies at the retail level to help increase sales. Nissan wants to double the number of unit sales per outlet by the end of fiscal year 2017, from 959. By comparison, Toyota sells 1,491 units per franchise while Honda sells 1,220. Adding dealers in the West, Midwest and Northeast is also a possibility.

To say that Nissan’s plan is aggressive is an understatement. When Volkswagen issued their call for 800,000 units in the United States, it set a target date nearly a decade into the future, and matched it with a strong product push targeted squarely at the tastes and budgets of U.S. consumers. While there’s still another 5 years to go, Volkswagen is already at 438,133 units in the U.S. as of last year.

With Europe in the toilet and Japan and China looking shaky, America is one side of Ghosn’s magic coin (the other being low cost cars), since it’s a locale where auto sales are not in freefall. Ghosn’s pursuit of marketshare for Nissan is reflected in the newest round of products, like the Versa, Sentra, Pathfinder and Altima, which emphasize comfort, interior space and value. In this context, their decision to slash prices to make their cars more competitive in online comparisons makes sense. With such a short timeframe and such a far-fetched target, every little bit will help move Nissan across the board.


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Renault and French Unions Agree: No Plant Closures, 7,500 Jobs Cut Thu, 14 Mar 2013 18:56:18 +0000 Renault photo

In what Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn described as a “historic” event, the automaker has come to an agreement with the three unions representing its French workers that will keep five Renault factories in France running until at least 2016 while using attrition and retirements to reduce their workforce by 7,500 employees.

To keep all of the company’s French assembly plants open, the unions,  Force Ouvriere, CFE-CGC and CFDT, appear to have agreed to what amounts to a wage cut, at least to begin with. There is a salary freeze for the first year of the agreement, but workers will have to put in 6.5% more hours in their workweek and increase production by a third. It’s interesting that Ghosn got the French unions to agree to a longer workweek not long after the recent dust up between Titan tire CEO Maurice Taylor and French finance minister Arnaud Montebourg over how lazy or productive French workers are or aren’t.

Ghosn said that the contract is a “balanced agreement” and will allow Renault to “renew its competitiveness in France”. The agreement follows a pattern set earlier between Renault and Spanish unions, pressuring its French workers. Ghosn is using a different strategy to cope with the problem overcapacity in a stagnant European car market than other automakers. Ford, PSA and Opel have all announced planned factory closings. The Wall Street Journal reports that there are as many as 20 auto assembly facilities in western Europe that are running at less than 50% capacity. Ghosn’s plan is apparently to boost productivity and lower the company’s break-even point with its French operations. The company says that the increase in working hours will lower costs by an average of €300 ($390) a car. I guess Renault is dealing with the overcapacity situation by actually using more of that capacity. Before the global financial crisis, Renault assembled 1.2 million cars in France in 2007.  That figure dropped to 532,000 for 2012. The company says that planned production of 710,000 cars in France by 2016 will improve utilization to 85% of capacity.

Some of that increased production will involve building 80,000 Nissans a year for Renault’s strategic partner. Though Ghosn predicted that a “promising” line of new cars will change Renault’s fortunes on the continent, since he only recently said that the European market won’t experience any growth for years, I think that making cars for Nissan and Renaults for export is going to be what that increased production is for. Renault’s international sales have indeed been up and despite the doldrums in Europe, Renault did make $2.3 billion in profits for 2012. At home, though, things aren’t good. Overall car sales in France in 2012 were down 14% and in the European market in general, Renault has not been competitive. Last year Renault lost more than a percentage point of market share in Europe as its sales fell 19% in that region.

Ghosn may not have a choice about lowering per-car assembly costs. His competitors have been waging a price war as they lower prices in their own way of keeping assembly lines running and capacity utilization high.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS




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Ghosn Backtracks On “10 Percent By 2020″ EV Sales Claims Fri, 15 Feb 2013 16:21:03 +0000

Carlos Ghosn’s assertion that “...electric vehicles could represent 10% of the global market in the next ten years, or 6 million vehicles…” may no longer be en vogue over at Renault, at least according to French business paper La Tribune.

The paper claims that Ghosn added a qualifier to this claim during a presentation to discuss Renault’s latest financial results. Regarding the 10 percent claims, Ghosn cautioned that “this will be the case where the vehicles will be sold…“, suggesting that the volumes would be restricted to certain markets, rather than globally.

Ironically, the remarks come as the Leaf celebrated 50,000 units globally – a nice milestone for Nissan, but still rather small numbers in the grand scheme of things. Ghosn is of course, still bullish on EV prospects, but it appears as if some of the juice has been drained from those particular batteries.

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Nissan Eyeing More North American Capacity Mon, 05 Nov 2012 15:10:57 +0000

Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn is eyeing another North American plant for Nissan, one that could be used to build both Nissan and Infiniti vehicles.

Infiniti, Ghosn said, is “too dependent on Japan”, though he stopped short of suggesting that the brand needs its own factory. A separate production line at a current factory would suffice, Ghosn told Automotive News. Currently, the only Infiniti model made in North America is the JX crossover, and Ghosn is adamant about introducing more North American production for the brand.

Ghosn sees a lack of local capacity as a major inhibitor of sales growth, and is hopeful that when Nissan’s Brazilian factory comes online in 2014, more capacity from their Mexican plant can be diverted to North America. Nissan is targeting 10 percent market share in the United States by 2017, and the timing of this achievement should be the impetus for the new plant.

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Coming Soon: The Brand New $3,000 Datsun Tue, 02 Oct 2012 17:20:48 +0000

Renault-Nissan already has Dacia as its “low-cost” brand, to compete with vehicles in the $10,000 range, the auto maker is moving forward with plans to introduce a new car that costs as little as $3,000.

Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn plans to launch six Datsun models starting in 2014, with prices ranging between $3,000 and $5,000. While product plans haven’t been revealed, the cars would be extremely basic, though industry watchers have stopped short of declaring that they will emulate the Tata Nano microcar.

For Ghosn, the Datsun project has nothing to do with the revival of the 240Z or the 510. His ambition is to provide mobility to developing world markets, reaching further into the depths of the low-cost market, even when large manufacturers like Volkswagen haven’t even begun to wade into it.

To even have a shot at reaching the $3,000 price point, the Datsuns will have to have nothing in the way of content. The WSJ reports with horror that they won’t come with an automatic transmission or airbags. A recent trip to Guatemala saw basic versions of late model Mitsubishis and Daewoos with lap belts in the rear, which suggests that the bar for decontenting is much lower than the ink-stained wretches of the Financial District can possibly fathom

To try to compete on that level, Nissan has pared back on the latest safety technology and redundant quality checks. “You make a car as simple as you can and you’re going to wind up with an $8,000 car from the costs of safety, powertrain efficiency, fuel efficiency and structural data for the platform,” said François Bancon, 60, Nissan’s general manager of product strategy and a member of the exploratory group. “We had to change the recipe, because the same recipe gives you the same dishes plus or minus some details. The notion of safety? Believe me, they are very flexible about this,” he said.


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Ghosn: Myanmar A “Star”, Europe Not Entirely Lost Thu, 13 Sep 2012 18:48:59 +0000

While Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn is “preparing for many mediocre years” of European sales, there may be a silver lining for the company.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Ghosn focused on Southeast Asia as the next hot spot. Along with Indonesia and Vietnam, “Myanmar may be the star of future,” he said. South America and Africa were also mentioned, though specific countries weren’t mentioned.

Europe remains Ghosn’s biggest concern, though Ghosn said that “will not see any kind of Armageddon”. With Dacia sales remaining strong, Ghosn has a hedge against Renault’s flagging fortunes – and sources say that Dacia remains the only profitably “low cost” car – the launch of Datsun will be a test of how well Nissan can hang on to their low-cost magic.

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Quotations From Chairman Carlos Ghosn Sat, 12 May 2012 15:59:52 +0000

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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Infiniti Production To Leave Japan; North America, China Possible New Sites Thu, 05 Apr 2012 13:51:43 +0000  

Nissan’s upscale Infiniti cars can only be bought outside of Japan, but most of the cars are made in Japan. That will change, said Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn in New York.

Infiniti cars are produced at Nissan plants in the Tochigi and Fukuoka Prefectures of Japan. Nissan/Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn said he will move more Infiniti production outside of Japan, The Nikkei [sub] reports. Earlier this year, Nissan started producing the Infiniti JX SUV in Smyrna, Tennessee.

Citing the strong yen as a reason, CEO Carlos Ghosn said that more Infiniti production will be moved to ‘North America,’ and China. While talking to reporters after a speech, Ghosn said:

“We are suffering in that most Infiniti products are made in Japan. We have most sourcing in Japan, but none of the sales. Obviously this is not the right system. We should produce cars where we sell them…. North America is a potential base, and China.”

Infiniti production in China had long been rumored. This would be the first time that Infiniti production in the Middle Kingdom has been officially acknowledged, indicating a successful conclusion of the negotiations with Nissan joint venture partner Dongfeng.

“We’re going to make announcements soon about a new base for sourcing for Infiniti,” Ghosn promised.  ”

Nissan has already started moving the global HQ of Infiniti to Hong Kong.



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“Fabrique Au Maroc” Renault/Dacia Cars Draws Controversy In France Fri, 10 Feb 2012 21:01:58 +0000

Renault’s establishment of a factory in France’s former colony of Morocco has drawn ire from union officials and industry in the sort of election year politicking that wouldn’t be unknown to Americans. The language and culture may be different, but the theme remains the same; good jobs in the manufacturing sector are leaving the country, and they aren’t coming back.

Renault’s Dacia brand is having a good run in world markets, and achieved a bit of notoriety when Top Gear’s James May professed his undying love for the Dacia Sandero compact hatchback. Renault has even gone as far as killing off half of their UK lineup, replacing the missing vehicles with Dacia cars instead.

A factory in Tangiers, Morocco was established to help build the new 7-seater Dacia Lodgy minivan, which will cost half as much as its Renault equivalent, the Scenic. The plant will also build a replacement for the Logan, and will be able to produce as much as 400,000 cars annually. Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn denied that the Lodgy would cannibalize sales of the Scenic, but the plant’s announcement seems to have struck a nerve in France.

Dacia’s are currently built in Romania, an EU member state, where workers earn 450 euro per month. While a French worker in a Renault factory earns about 1,800 euro, employees at the Moroccan plant will only take home ,250 per month. One columnist in French paper Le Dauphiné Libéré noted that Moroccan workers won’t even be able to buy the cars they produce with that wage. But the Tangiers plant is right near a major port, and Morocco, a relatively poor country will benefit from the 6,000 jobs added by the plant alone.

Meanwhile, Europe is in the throes of an economic crisis with the potential to destabilize the entire continent – and France, along with Germany, are doing the most to bring the EU out of its tailspin. France is in an election year, with Socialist leader Francois Hollande making headway against current leader Nicolas Sarkozy. Not surprisingly, union leaders are giving the government (a 15 percent stakeholder in Renault) some merde royale. “We see this factory as a dangerous development,” said Fabien Gache, head of French labor union CGT. “These vehicles are basically…[Dacia branded] Scenics and Kangoos,” Gache said. “They’re bound to hit the Renault brand’s market share.” Even a former cabinet minister for Sarkozy has accused Renault of “social dumping in Morocco“.

Renault is estimated to produce 30 percent of its vehicles in its home market of France. Working in a Renault factory and taking advantage of the French welfare state’s generous benefits used to be a ticket to a solid middle class life in France, but the rise of “l’hexagone” (Dacia) in favor of “le diamant” (Renault) represents a symbolic threat to a former way of life that came to be seen as a birthright in not just France but much of Europe. Ghosn went as far as to say that he never even dreamed of building a Dacia factory in Western Europe, as it would be incompatible with the idea of a “low-cost” vehicle. The Dacia Duster is a major success in France, but it could never be built with workers earning 1,800 euro a month and taking 5 weeks paid vacation. Dacia’s market share has risen as Renault’s has fallen – and why wouldn’t it when the economy is in a toilet, and one can buy a Renault-engineered vehicle for half price compared to the “brand name” version?


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Nissan Invests $2 Billion Into Mexican Plant Wed, 25 Jan 2012 17:01:32 +0000

While Honda and Mazda are just getting their respective footholds in Mexico (the two automakers are opening up respective assembly plants in Mexico), Nissan has had a long presence south of the border, building cars at its Augascalientes, Mexico plant for decades.

Nissan is set to build an all-new plant in Augascalientes, with a total investment of $2 billion. The plant will produce B-segment cars (such as the Versa). Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn is on a major push to avoid exporting Japanese-built vehicles due to a strong yen. The Mexican plant will help shore up North American vehicle production, as Nissan’s Smyrna, Tennessee plant will add a range of new vehicles shortly, including the Infiniti JX, the Nissan Rogue and the Nissan Leaf. Greater expansion of the new plant, as well as facilities for suppliers were also in the cards.

With the goal of becoming Latin America’s top Japanese OEM, as well as outselling Honda in the United States, the new plant is crucial to Nissan’s plans. Nissan is hoping to have the factory producing cars in less than 24 months.

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Renault Not Coming Back To America Says CEO Ghosn Fri, 13 Jan 2012 20:06:52 +0000

Doing it “The French Way” apparently referred to oral sex in the 19th century – and this has nothing to do with today’s announcement from  Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn that Renault would not be returning to America. Instead, Renault will focus on cracking another world market.

While Ghosn said that Renault won’t be back for “the forseeable future”, the brand would try its hand at cracking the Chinese market. Renault recently contracted their operations in the UK, slashing 5 models and a third of its dealer network. Ironically, the UK is a big market for the Renaultsport line of hot hatches, and as much as the Megane RS (above) excites us, we’d have to take the rest of the lineup, like the Wind or the Modus along with it.

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Carlos Ghosn: The Yen Is Abnormal, And We Won’t Live Much Longer With That Deviant Tue, 20 Sep 2011 22:56:21 +0000 When we went on the plane this morning for the some 600 mile trip to see a Nissan plant in Kyushu, the southernmost of the four main Japanese islands, we asked ourselves: Why?

After all, the plant had been there since 1975. What’s new? We soon should find out: Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn went on a full frontal attack against the high yen, threatened several times that Nissan and most of the Japanese industry would pack up and leave, and delivered an ultimatum: “If six months down the road we are still in this situation, then this will provoke a rethinking of our industrial strategy.”

The Kyushu plant was the perfect venue: It sits halfway between Yokohama and Shanghai. South Korea, the land of the cheap Won, is some 150 miles across the water.

The Nissan plant struts into the water like a huge ship that is ready to sail. Nearly half of Nissan’s Japanese production rolls off the lines in the Kyushu plant, and the lion’s share rolls right into huge car carriers, docked at Nissan’s private deep-water port. 57.4 percent sailed across the Pacific last year , and on to North America.

Soon, this port will see incoming traffic: As a first step to ward off high yen denominated costs, Nissan will increasingly import parts and components from South Korea and China.

Carlos Ghosn tried his best to make this choice palatable for local dignitaries and a sometimes fiercely nationalistic press:

“Importing from China does not automatically mean that we stop buying from our Japanese suppliers. Many Japanese companies have plants in China. What is better than Japanese supplier? It is Japanese suppliers with the benefit of competitive production.”

A few sentences later, it was no longer that clear-cut:

“We will also use our Japanese suppliers in China – or Chinese suppliers, and we will use Japanese or Korean suppliers from South Korea.”

In this case, the high yen makes the imported parts cheaper. But cheaper parts are not enough to withstand the “strong headwinds” that Ghosn mentions again and again as he winds up to the real topic of the day: the obscenely high yen.

“This exchange rate is abnormal.”

Ghosn says this again and again, as if we aren’t talking about foreign exchange, but something that belongs on a list of sex offenders.

“Two months ago, we were fighting the yen at 90, and we were asking for a more reasonable rate. Instead of the rate becoming more reasonable, then yen went to 85 against the dollar, and then 80, and now 77. Common sense tells us what we are seeing today is abnormal.”

After saying several times that the rate is deviant, Ghosn signals what will happen if the currency won’t go where it belongs: In the past, he had committed that a million cars will be built in Japan. That is less than a quarter of what Nissan makes worldwide. But even that will change if the Yen won’t get cheaper:

“This exchange rate is abnormal. If I thought that the exchange rate would remain the way it is today, there would be a lot of decisions made at Nissan today that would be unfavorable to locating car production in Japan. I don’t think this is sustainable for the economy, I don’t think it is sustainable for Japan, I don’t think it is sustainable for the industry. I know how much we are struggling, and how much our competition is struggling, and I don’t think it is going to last. The only question is how long the pain is going to be endured. We are still in the mood of saying that it is going to correct. We are making investment decisions based on faith. But if the exchange rate will remain at this level for a very long time, a lot of decisions will be reversed. We stick with one million cars in Japan because we believe in common sense and we believe that at the end of the day nothing abnormal will remain abnormal, and long-term trends will prevail.”

Ghosn wants to see this change fast:

“Given the choice, we stay in Japan, This is our home, this is our base. If we go, then because we are forced out. If in six months down the road we are still in this situation, then this will provoke a rethinking of our industrial strategy. Personally, I don’t think this will be the case – but  I may be wrong.”

Toyota finds itself in a much more precarious situation. Toyota makes nearly half of its global production in Japan, and committed to 3 million units made at home. Spokespeople at Toyota had no fresh comments and referred to past statements by their executives.

At the August 2 financial results press conference in Tokyo, TMC’s Senior Managing Officer Takahiko Ijichi said that 76 yen is extremely difficult and might exceed the limit for domestic production. He had mentioned the importation of parts, but was wary of the quality of the product Toyota gets from suppliers.  At the May 11 full year financial results conference, TMC’s CFO Ozawa said that Toyota could break even with 6.6 million units at 85 yen to the dollar.

Today, a dollar bought 76.5 yen, far away from what Toyota needs to make a profit, and far away from what Ghosn thinks is normal. Let’s pray it will change soon.

With Carlos Ghosn in Kyushu. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The Nissan plant in Kyushu. Picture courtesy Kyushu With Carlos Ghosn in Kyushu. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt With Carlos Ghosn in Kyushu. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt With Carlos Ghosn in Kyushu. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt With Carlos Ghosn in Kyushu. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt With Carlos Ghosn in Kyushu. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt With Carlos Ghosn in Kyushu. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt With Carlos Ghosn in Kyushu. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt IMG_6161 IMG_7033 IMG_6991 IMG_6967 IMG_6963 IMG_6952 IMG_6942 IMG_6924 IMG_6914 IMG_6893 IMG_6864 IMG_6841 IMG_6830 IMG_6815 IMG_6775 IMG_6686 IMG_6668 IMG_6638 IMG_6600 IMG_6554 IMG_6288




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With Carlos Ghosn In Beijing: Go Where The Growth Is Tue, 26 Jul 2011 14:41:49 +0000

In fulfillment of my paparazzo duties, I stalked Nissan’s and Renault’s CEO all the way to China today. Easy for me to do: I could walk from where I live in Beijing. The walk was worth it. In the Grand Ballroom of the China World Tower 3, Ghosn and his Chinese joint venture partners announced an aggressive five year plan. Nissan and Dongfeng want to nearly double Nissan sales in China from 1.3 million in 2010 to 2.3 million in 2015.

The plan is less ambitious than it sounds. Currently, Nissan has 6.5 percent market share in China. “Our objective is 10 percent market share,” said Ghosn. That means that they budget for a total market of 23 million in 2015, up from 18 million last year. China-watchers think this is very conservative.

To reach that goal, the joint venture has to build a lot of capacity. Underscoring that the 2.3 million are not just targets nobody takes seriously, current plants are being expanded, new plants are being built. Capacity in China will be 1.5 million units next year, and will reach 2.3 million by 2015. Over the next five years, Nissan “will launch around 30 products” in China.

This growth will do little to ease unemployment elsewhere. Already, 90 percent of the parts going into Nissan cars in China are made in China. Ghosn expects localization “to reach nearly 100 percent by 2015 with our extensive network of 400 local suppliers.”

Speaking of localization, Ghosn said something today that will raise eyebrows in Japan, Europe, and around the globe if they hear it:

“I am also proud to recognize that in addition to China being home to the largest volume facilities in the Alliance, it is also home to the best performing plants. Based on our global ranking system that measures quality of production and products, our plants in Huadu and Xiangyang rank first and second against 34 other plants in the Alliance.”

Keep those eyebrows up. Ghosn repeated and perfected a sideswipe at M&As, which he thinks are past century. He believes in “shared growth,” brought by alliances:

“From the alliance with Renault to our strategic partnership with Daimler, Nissan has a proven track record of successfully managing cross-cultural and cross-functional relationships.”

As we could see yesterday in our comparison of Japanese car companies, those relationships seem to bear fruits. Ghosn is focused on where the growth is: The emerging markets of this world.

Back in Ye Olde Country, Ghosn’s cost cutter colleague Sergio Marchionne still believes in old-style mergers, because “alliances don’t squeeze enough value out of the partnership,” said Bloomberg yesterday. If your home market is moribund Italy, and if you have been given a Chrysler when it was still in the emergency room, then you better squeeze as hard as you can.

You don’t have to squeeze as hard if you are big in emerging markets, and a major player in China, which is, as Ghosn had remarked a month ago, “one of the most profitable markets in the world. It used to be the United States. Now it is China.” And is anybody budgeting for twice the Chrysler sales by 2015?

Carlos Ghosn in Beijing. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Carlos Ghosn in Beijing. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Carlos Ghosn in Beijing. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Carlos Ghosn in Beijing. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Carlos Ghosn in Beijing. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Carlos Ghosn in Beijing. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Carlos Ghosn in Beijing. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Carlos Ghosn in Beijing. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Carlos Ghosn in Beijing. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Carlos Ghosn in Beijing. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Carlos Ghosn in Beijing. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Carlos Ghosn in Beijing. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Carlos Ghosn in Beijing. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Carlos Ghosn in Beijing. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Carlos Ghosn in Beijing. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Carlos Ghosn in Beijing. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Carlos Ghosn in Beijing. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Carlos Ghosn in Beijing. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt ]]> 7