Nissan Cutting 700 Workers, Blames Slow Titan Sales
Adding to company woes brought on by the Carlos Ghosn scandal, Nissan has announced plans to lay off nearly 700 contract workers at its truck and van manufacturing facility in Mississippi.
The shifts affected are responsible for making the Titan, Frontier, and NV line of vans. While Frontier sales are relatively steady, both Titan and NV numbers are down on a year-over-year basis through the end of December.
The automaker says it will cut production by eliminating one shift of Titan and Frontier pickup truck assembly, reducing those models from three shifts to two. It will also halve the number of shifts building the NV passenger and cargo vans, reducing them to a single shift.
“Nissan is adjusting production capacity at its Canton manufacturing facility to match market demand and maintain healthy inventory levels,” a spokesman said. Apparently, all direct employees will retain their jobs and only contract workers will be dismissed.
Sales of the Titan have levelled off, with 50,459 of the trucks sold in 2018 compared to 52,924 the year prior — about a 5 percent drop. The NV line is off by a similar amount. Demand for the Titan spiked after the new model appeared for the 2016 model year. This compares to a low of 12,140 sales in 2015 and a high of 86,945 in 2005. The company has been doing a good job listening to its customers and making incremental changes to the new Titan, adding CarPlay and binning the fender badge that never looked quite right on non-XD trucks.
Still, competition in the half-ton market is fierce. Ram has taken the field to school with its snazzy interior trappings, while Ford continues to crank up the output of its rockstar 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, which now sits at a heady 510 lb-ft of torque. GM brings a trick tailgate to the party. In order to compete in the cutthroat pickup truck game, one must constantly innovate.
The job cuts at Nissan pour fuel on existing misery. It has been a couple of months since former boss Ghosn began inspecting the inside of a concrete jail cell. Since then, breach of trust allegations have appeared regarding the awarding of dealer franchises. Adding to the mess, Jose Munoz, one of Ghosn’s closest allies and one of the automaker’s most powerful executives, vanished from his job as chief performance officer late last week after being given a leave of absence. Munoz, who ran Nissan’s North American business before being given responsibility for sales results around the world, is said to have cited the internal investigation of Ghosn in his resignation.
Before the announcement, the company had about 6,500 direct employees and contract workers at the plant in Canton. Last month, Nissan announced plans to lay off about 1,000 people at two factories in Mexico.
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