Dealers Blast Nissan CEO, Deliver 'an Hour and a Half of Reality'

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
dealers blast nissan ceo deliver 8216 an hour and a half of reality

Japanese executives traditionally take company failings very personally, often performing penance in the wake of scandals and downturns. In the case of fresh-on-the-job Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida, his punishment for the automaker’s dismal financial situation and tumbling sales was an earful from a group of angry U.S. dealers.

The dealers let Uchida have it during a recent meeting at Nissan’s U.S. headquarters — the first such meeting since Uchida’s elevation to CEO late last year. It’s not like he didn’t ask for it.

According to Automotive News, Uchida specifically asked for brutal honesty from the group of retailers. “I’m here to listen, don’t hold anything back — even if it’s hard for me to hear,” the CEO reportedly told the group.

What followed was an hour-and-a-half rundown of every gripe dealers have with Nissan, ranging from concern over brand image (it’s too low-rent) to weak residual values and untimely product updates. The automaker’s efforts to pull back on incentivization also doesn’t sit well with dealers. They want money to help move product, a change in the automaker’s compensation plan for dealers, as well as more help on the marketing side.

While Nissan continues holding the line on fleet sales and reduced incentivization — an effort aimed at boosting residuals and placing the struggling automaker on a more solid financial footing — it hasn’t done anything for brand sales, especially in the United States. Volume shrunk 9.9 percent in 2019, with sales weighed down by an even worse-performing Infiniti.

As 2019 drew to a close, reports emerged of Nissan scrambling to cut costs wherever savings could be found, including on air travel. A two-day January furlough of U.S. workers only served to highlight the company’s desperation.

One dealer claimed the room demanded more autonomy for the company’s U.S. business, much like Volkswagen of America asked for — and got — from its rigid parent company. As one retailer is quoted as saying, “if you don’t [provide] all the resources today, the check later on is going to be even greater.”

Nor did the dealers like Nissan’s focus on high-tech things. Consumers, they said, want to know what a brand can do for them, and U.S. advertising should reflect this. “Our technology message is getting lost in translation,” is a comment one source recalls. “Self-driving cars may be great in Japan or different parts of the world, but [in the U.S.], people are not responding to it.”

While Uchida reportedly told dealers he has “a plan” to fix Nissan’s ills, without divulging much more than that, the group gave the CEO credit for showing up and taking the heat. The situation is the inverse of when Carlos Ghosn headed the company.

“No one in the room ever dared tell Carlos Ghosn what he didn’t want to hear,” one dealer said.

[Image: Nissan]

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  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Jan 21, 2020

    My solution to Nissan problems: 1. Get rid of Carlos Ghosn - Done. 2. Drop Nissan brand and keep Infiniti only. 3a. Rename Nissan to Infiniti. 3b. Or rename Nissan to Pontiac and then shut it down few years later. 3. Merge with PSA-FCA. 4. Replace CVTs with DCTs.

  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Jan 28, 2020

    Nissan is a cheaply built car, clearly cost cut everywhere. Think low quality food, but Super Sized ! In my area, it is usually the Rogue, poorly driven, blocking the left lane. The only worse offenders are older women in Subarus.

  • Jeff S Corey--We know but we still want to give our support to you and let TTAC know that your articles are excellent and better than what the typical articles are.
  • Jeff S A sport utility vehicle or SUV is a car classification that combines elements of road-going passenger cars with features from off-road vehicles, such as raised ground clearance and four-wheel drive.There is no commonly agreed-upon definition of an SUV and usage of the term varies between countries. Thus, it is "a loose term that traditionally covers a broad range of vehicles with four-wheel drive." Some definitions claim that an SUV must be built on a light truck chassis; however, broader definitions consider any vehicle with off-road design features to be an SUV. A [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossover_(automobile)]crossover SUV[/url] is often defined as an SUV built with a unibody construction (as with passenger cars), however, the designations are increasingly blurred because of the capabilities of the vehicles, the labelling by marketers, and electrification of new models.The predecessors to SUVs date back to military and low-volume models from the late 1930s, and the four-wheel drive station wagons and carryalls that began to be introduced in 1949. The 1984 [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeep_Cherokee_(XJ)]Jeep Cherokee (XJ)[/url] is considered to be the first SUV in the modern style. Some SUVs produced today use unibody construction; however, in the past, more SUVs used body-on-frame construction. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the popularity of SUVs greatly increased, often at the expense of the popularity of large [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedan_(automobile)]sedans[/url] and station wagons.More recently, smaller SUVs, mid-size, and crossovers have become increasingly popular. SUVs are currently the world's largest automotive segment and accounted for 45.9% of the world's passenger car market in 2021. SUVs have been criticized for a variety of environmental and safety-related reasons. They generally have poorer fuel efficiency and require more resources to manufacture than smaller vehicles, contributing more to climate change and environmental degradation. Between 2010 and 2018 SUVs were the second largest contributor to the global increase in carbon emissions worldwide. Their higher center of gravity increases their risk of rollovers. Their larger mass increases their stopping distance, reduces visibility, and increases damage to other road users in collisions. Their higher front-end profile makes them at least twice as likely to kill pedestrians they hit. Additionally, the psychological sense of security they provide influences drivers to drive less cautiously. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sport_utility_vehicleWith the above definition of SUV any vehicle that is not a pickup truck if it is enclosed, doesn't have a trunk, and is jacked up with bigger tires. If the green activists adhere to this definition of what an SUV is there will be millions of vehicles with flat tires which include HRVs, Rav4s, CRVs, Ford Escapes, Buick Encores, and many of compact and subcompact vehicles. The green movement is going to have to recruit millions of new followers and will be busy flattening millions of tires in the US and across the globe. Might be easier to protest.
  • Sckid213 I actually do agree that most Nissans are ultimately junk. (I also think many BMWs are also). I was talking challenging the 3 in terms of driving dynamics. Agree all were failures in sales.
  • THX1136 More accurately said, we are seeing exponential growth in the manufacturing capabilities in this market. Unless, of course, all those vehicles are sold with customers waiting until more a produced so they can buy. Indeed, there are certainly more EVs being purchased now than back in 2016. Is demand outstripping manufacturing? Maybe or maybe not. I sincerely don't know which is why I ask.
  • ToolGuy The page here (linked in the writeup) is ridiculously stupid https://www.tyreextinguishers.com/how-to-spot-an-suvLike, seriously stupid, e.g., A) Not sure that particular Volvo is killing the planet as quickly as some other vehicles we might choose. B) A Juke is "huge"??? C) The last picture shows a RAV4 Hybrid?
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