Nissan Picks a New CEO to Deal With Its Mess

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
nissan picks a new ceo to deal with its mess

Early reports out of Japan Tuesday indicated Nissan’s replacement for former CEO Hiroto Saikawa had been found, and the company’s board soon confirmed it. First reported by Nikkei, the automaker’s board has tapped Senior Vice President Makoto Uchida to sit in the big chair.

Uchida, 53, took on his current role in 2018; he also heads China’s Dongfeng Motor Company — a 50-50 joint venture between the two automakers. The executive joined Nissan back in 2003.

Uchida has no shortage of issues he’ll have to grapple with.

As the company deals with the fallout of former chairman Carlos Ghosn’s arrest and impending trail, as well as internal investigations into improper compensation that sunk Saikawa (and could take down a number of execs), there’s also the thorny issues of sales and revenue. Nissan intends to get its ship in order, culling thousands of positions globally while holding the line on incentives and fleet sales to firm up its financial footing.

Sales really aren’t doing well, if last month’s North American figures tell us anything.

Besides his long history with Nissan, Uchida has also thrown himself into projects with alliance partner Renault, which should help keep the rocky pair-up intact. He also knows a thing about growth, having dealt with the Chinese market these past couple of years.

Joining Uchida in Nissan’s C-suite is Ashwani Gupta, tapped for the chief operating officer position. It’s a position he’s quite familiar with, having served as COO for alliance partner Mitsubishi Motors. Before that, Gupta spent years working for Renault in both India and France. Clearly, there’s an attempt to calm the alliance waters here. Serving under Gupta is Nissan Senior Vice President Jun Seki, named to the position of vice-chief operating officer.

“The board concluded that Uchida is the right leader to drive the business forward,” said Nissan board chair Yasushi Kimura in a statement.

“Nissan’s Nomination Committee led the nomination process and assessed candidates thoroughly in line with the new three-committee governance structure established in June. We expect Uchida to lead the company as one team, immediately focus on the recovery of the business and revitalize the company. We look forward to Gupta and Seki fully leveraging their expertise and experience to support the new CEO.”

Job One (of Many) for Uchida? Eliminating “rock bottom.”

[Images: Nissan]

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  • Jkross22 Jkross22 on Oct 09, 2019

    For over 20 years, Nissan has slid downward in design, engineering, quality, etc. They make subpar products. Everyone knows. It's no secret what they need to do. Like Ford, they don't appear willing to invest in making higher quality products and instead let the accountants make the decisions that designers and engineers should be making.

    • Stuki Stuki on Oct 09, 2019

      Don't know about "quality," but Ford the Alu truck, 10 speed tranny, Raptor, ST, GT etc. company; doesn't seem to fit the "accountants" making decisions paradigm very well.... It may not look like it post successful hoc, but betting the future of one of automobiledom's most reliable pillars (the F150) on hitherto unproven material and attendant production and service processes, has little to do with accountants; and everything to do with (somehwat at least) blind trust in a bunch of "crazy" ex aerospace guys with a superiority complex.

  • Lou_BC "They are the worst kind of partisan - the kind that loves their team more than they want to know the truth."Ummm...yeah....Kinda like birtherism, 2020 election stolen, vast voter fraud, he can have top secret documents at Mar-lago, he's a savvy business man, and hundreds more.
  • FreedMike This article fails to mention that Toyota is also investing heavily in solid state battery tech - which would solve a lot of inherent EV problems - and plans to deploy it soon. course, Toyota being Toyota, it will use the tech in hybrids first, which is smart - that will give them the chance to iron out the wrinkles, so to speak. But having said that, I’m with Toyota here - I’m not sold on an all EV future happening anytime soon. But clearly the market share for these vehicles has nowhere to go but up; how far up depends mainly on charging availability. And whether Toyota’s competitors are all in is debatable. Plenty of bet-hedging is going on among makers in the North American market.
  • Jeff S I am not against EVs but I completely understand Toyota's position. As for Greenpeace putting Toyota at the bottom of their environmental list is more drama. A good hybrid uses less gas, is cleaner than most other ICE, and is more affordable than most EVs. Prius has proven longevity and low maintenance cost. Having had a hybrid Maverick since April and averaging 40 to 50 mpg in city driving it has been smooth driving and very economical. Ford also has very good hybrids and some of the earlier Escapes are still going strong at 300k miles. The only thing I would have liked in my hybrid Maverick would be a plug in but it didn't come with it. If Toyota made a plug in hybrid compact pickup like the Maverick it would sell well. I would consider an EV in the future but price, battery technology, and infrastructure has to advance and improve. I don't buy a vehicle based on the recommendation of Greenpeace, as a status symbol, or peer pressure. I buy a vehicle on what best needs my needs and that I actually like.
  • Mobes Kind of a weird thing that probably only bothers me, but when you see someone driving a car with ball joints clearly about to fail. I really don't want to be around a car with massive negative camber that's not intentional.
  • Jeff S How reliable are Audi? Seems the Mazda, CRV, and Rav4 in the higher trim would not only be a better value but would be more reliable in the long term. Interior wise and the overall package the Mazda would be the best choice.