By on December 5, 2019

Image: Nissan

As Christmas looms, Nissan just placed an unwanted gift in the stockings of its U.S. employees. Sinking sales, combined with a global streamlining of its cash-strapped operation, has led the automaker to give all employees two unpaid days off of work in January, Automotive News reports.

In a memo to employees obtained by the publication, Nissan’s U.S. arm laid out the emergency cost-cutting measures in full. It seems no one gets off the hook.

According to Nissan North America Chairman Jose Valls, the New Year’s holiday will extend into a two-day furlough impacting all U.S. employees — head office, finance, assembly, engineering, and design workers included. The move will result in a 9.2-percent January pay cut for those who receive a monthly check. Biweekly employees will obviously see a greater chunk lost from their payday.

“While we’ve made some positive progress, Nissan’s performance has fallen short of our expectations,” Valls said in the memo.

Elsewhere, employee travel expenses are being cut in half “effective immediately.”

Despite efforts to turn around the automaker’s shrinking standing in the U.S. market, Nissan’s plan has yet to bear fruit. While no new layoffs are in the works, the company’s move to reduce fleet sales and cut incentives now sees weight being removed from the other end of the scale to balance things out.

Image: Nissan

Nissan sales shrunk 15.9 percent in November, year over year. Year to date, the brand’s sales are down 6.5 percent. The reliable moneymaker Frontier pickup is down 6.2 percent through the end of November, while the high-margin Titan line saw its sales shrink by more than 35 percent over the same period. At least the Altima sedan, all-new for the 2019 model year, rose 37 percent last month, placing it close to breaking even this year.

Things are even worse at the struggling Infiniti brand, where November sales dropped 33.4 percent. Year to date, Nissan’s premium division lost 18.9 percent of its volume.

According to figures from ALG, Nissan’s incentive spend per vehicle, while still above the industry average, shrunk 5.5 percent YoY in November. The automaker is still resisting the urge to spiff sales with cash-laden hoods.

Time will tell whether a flurry of model revamps will pay off in the new year. Over the past several months, Nissan revealed an all-new Versa sedan, Sentra, Titan, and Titan XD, each of them offering greater content, updated looks, and far fewer built configurations.

[Images: Nissan]

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17 Comments on “Financial Trouble Breeds Winter of Discontent for Nissan Employees...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Coming up, FCA-PSA-Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi-Pact-Alliance-Merger-of-Equals

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The base model Frontier is the only Nissan product that I would be interested in. The CVT transmissions in Nissan cars and crossovers is a nonstarter for me.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      I suspect that the CVT is one of the top reasons why Nissan is hurting today. Between warranty claims and customers that were burned by CVT issues, Nissan has lost a lot of market share and revenue.

      Anyone who owned a 1st generation CVT like the Cube was solidly burned around 80k miles when the transmission gave up the ghost and the replacement was more expensive (~$4k) than the car was worth. Now people with second gen CVTs are having to replace theirs. Even the Infiniti CVTs are going to $h1t over time.

      One sure fire way to lose customers is to slap them with a several thousand dollar transmission bill right outside of warranty. The customers aren’t exactly quiet online about it, and I wouldn’t be either if I were in the same situation.

      • 0 avatar
        tomLU86

        Ugly cars just don’t sell as well.

        The full-size pick-up, the ‘compact’ pick-up, are ugly. Versa, Maxima ugly. Altima–palatable.

        Ugly cars that break down don’t win customers.

  • avatar
    EGSE

    “Effective immediately” travel expenses are cut in half? So if you’re already on the road, do you pay your own way back? /jk

    Nissan NA employees should update their paperwork and start looking. Involuntary furloughs are usually a precursor of deeper cuts to come. Somewhere in the C-suite lists of names are being compiled. For those not cut, expect contributions to 401Ks to vanish along with other bennies. I can tell you from experience that those left standing will not enjoy the aftermath of a RIF.

  • avatar
    TonyR

    My last Nissan was a 2012 Pathfinder, great (and real) SUV. It was my second Pathfinder. The newest version is terrible. The CVT was the death of the rest of the car lineup. Had a Maxima as a rental recently, Dull and boring. It too was once a great car. So sad. They have so lost their mojo.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Reminds me of my last days at WorldCom, without the book-cooking (well, at least that we know about). As the downhill slide accelerated, they started cheaping out. First they cancelled the service that came around to water the plants in the office, so we had to do that ourselves. The 401k contributions ended. Raises ended. Travel reimbursements got sketchy. Eventually, they asked us to bring in our own office supplies.

    Still, everyone soldiered through it with a “we’re all in it together” can-do spirit. Why not? We all knew the cull was coming, and wanted to display the proper survivor’s attitude.

    Then came the fateful day that it all went bad:

    *****THE DAY THEY TOOK OUT THE COFFEE MACHINES*****

    They announced it first thing in the morning one day. By 10:00 am, the office began to resemble the “Aux Les Barricades!!!” scenes from the French Revolution. It was all Lord of the Flies from there. I got clipped a month later. The only good news was that at that point, the company was still semi-functional, so I got a decent severance, and they paid out my accrued pension and unpaid vacation/sick time. I made out OK.

    A few months later, the company was bankrupt, and the s**tcanned employees got a hearty smile and a handshake, and not a damn thing more.

    Needless to say, anyone who worked there fervently hopes Bernie Ebbers dies in prison.

    Lesson learned: you can cut pay, you can cut benefits, you can even ask people to pay for their own stapler refills, and they’ll do it all with a smile on their face…but for God’s sake, whatever you do, ***DO NOT TAKE OUT THE F**KING COFFEE MACHINES!!!!!!!!***

    • 0 avatar
      EGSE

      HA HA! We’ve traveled the same trail of tears in life.

      I had a contract at a sinking ship. It is illegal to late-pay employees in Maryland (where this facility was located)….but contractors went 30-60 days on their invoices. You got coffee from the roach coach that came by. To one of your points, finding a functioning ball-point pen was the definition of impossible.

      One day I asked an admin if she could supply me with such a rare implement; she rooted around in her desk and gave me a pen lifted from a Courtyard Marriott. This is no chitt….the end had *bite marks* on it…ICK!! Thank G0d I didn’t ask her for a tampon!! I went to Staples and bought 100 pens in a bag for about $10 and walked through the cube farm handing out 3 or 4 each to the long-suffering worker bees. They reacted like a druggie finding the eight-ball of coke they misplaced.

      I did get stiffed on my last billing from a gig in California but the cooked-books place collapsed with dueling lawyers fighting over the scraps. With no real prospects of collecting I just ate it and walked away.

      We could have some good laughs over beers I’m sure.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Dip that pen in Lysol. Yecch.

        Bad as my first story was, though, I can top it. I once worked for a company that announced it was closing our office…at the Christmas party. Zero severance. Fa La La!!!!

        The folks in charge of the office were getting s**tcanned too, and they clearly had no idea it was coming (thus, the Christmas party). Long story short, they were P*SSED. Therefore, they encouraged us to steal whatever office supplies we wanted as a severance package of sorts. I used that stuff for YEARS.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Savages.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    WTF are you guys doing deploying production JS/CSS changes at 11:47 EST?

  • avatar
    ConBrio

    Just bought a new Nissan 2 days ago. NV3500 Passenger van. Got a decent deal on a great (large) family hauler with a distinctly early-2000’s Suburban/Tahoe feel. Nissan has done a decent job with their sports cars (although the Z is beyond long in the tooth) and the bare-bones stuff (Frontier and NV vans), but everything in between has fallen off. Hopefully they’ll still be honoring their 5 year/100k mile bumper to bumper of we ever need it…

  • avatar
    Mnemic

    Nissan is in far worse shape than most know. Old dated fleet vehicles designed, built and priced to be deeply discounted and given away now have to hold gross and sell for near MSRP. Its like if Dodge all of a sudden had to increase the prices and rates on journeys and caravans after a decade of giving massive discounts and 0/84 financing.

    And think of the dealers that have been buying hundreds of their own inventory to meet target. Their used lots are filled with “used” (new) nissans with warranties running and even higher used rates

  • avatar
    syncro87

    On a vaguely related note speaking of Nissan discontent. If you’re a Nissan fan, I recommend reading “The Reckoning” by David Halberstam. A great read for anyone on TTAC, actually, if you’re interested in the history of the auto manufacturing business. Primarily, it deals with how Asian makes gained and exploited their foothold in the US market. Heavily skewed toward Nissan (Datsun) and their entry and growth in the US, and Ford as the primary domestic brand referenced. A lot of the book deals with Nissan’s internal goings-on, labor relations, etc.

  • avatar
    How_Embarrassing_4You

    Meanwhile, in the 200,234th Ford “death thread” there are 4Xs as many comments. Nope, nothing to see here either.

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