Financial Trouble Breeds Winter of Discontent for Nissan Employees

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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.

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]

Steph Willems
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  • Syncro87 Syncro87 on Dec 05, 2019

    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.

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

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