By on May 15, 2020

A struggling Nissan sees the U.S. market playing a bigger role in the company’s sales future. Ahead of the release of its near-term recovery plan, expected later this month, the automaker sees new product as the key to firming up its flagging U.S. presence.

Elsewhere, a report out Friday claims Nissan’s new plan will see the U.S. account for a third of the automaker’s global volume. With all of this in the works, it’s perhaps no surprise that the company’s North American arm saw a sudden resignation.

Speaking to Reuters, sources with knowledge of the plan say the U.S. and China will each account of a third of the company’s volume (U.S. share rises from 25 percent today), with everywhere else — Europe, other Asian markets, Russia, and Latin America — seeing their share fall from 45 percent today to a third.

Word of this plan leaked earlier this year, as Nissan attempted to forge a path out of a global sales retraction and profit loss made all the more worse by the arrival of COVID-19. The company’s workforce and R&D spending will see a haircut, production volume will be cut going forward, and both Nissan and alliance partner Renault will focus on their strengths. Models that work in some markets will continue to be sold there, minus unnecessary, slower-selling stablemates.

In an interview with Automotive News, Nissan’s chief operating officer, Ashwani Gupta, called the U.S. a “great market” where the company will focus on three strategies: product, dealers, and “brand power.” The first of the three efforts is well underway, as seen by revamped models like the Altima, Versa, and Sentra. (The Rogue is next, followed by the Frontier and Armada.)

Greater standard content and fewer build configurations is now the name of the game, with focus placed on fewer fleet sales.

Gupta promised eight new products over the next 28 months, a move he says will reduce the average model age in Nissan’s lineup to 3.3 to 3.5 years. Despite overall sales figures deep-sixed by the coronavirus lockdown, Gupta added that Sentra’s retail share increased in April compared to the previous year.

“This product strategy, which is focused on new products with advanced technology, will bring the momentum in the U.S. market,” Gupta said. The COO then went out of his way to celebrate the brand’s dealer network, calling them “the face of our customer.” If you’ll recall, American dealers gave the company’s newly minted CEO an earful over the winter.

“If the product and dealers are great, they need to be connected by a transparent and sustainable business mechanism,” Gupta said. “In mid-February, we launched the Nissan Drive 2020 dealer support plan — a very comprehensive package designed to support the dealer.”

As for brand recognition, Nissan is well-known as a purveyor of value products — which doesn’t necessarily mean cheap. However, Nissan wants more brand power, preferring to be known as much for quality and accolades as its affordability. That power will come from new product, Gupta claims.

Nissan

On Friday, Nissan announced the resignation of its North American president and chairman, José Luis Valls. His departure date is June 15th. Into the vice chairman role steps Jérémie Papin (seen above, on the left), who joined Nissan North America as its administration and finance chief in 2018 after serving as global finance director of the broader Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance.

Working beneath Papin will be Mike Colleran (same photo, on the right), current Nissan corporate vice president and global chairman of the Infiniti division. Colleran was appointed senior vice president for Nissan U.S. effective June 1st.

[Images: Nissan]

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19 Comments on “U.S. to Play Beefier Role in Nissan’s Future; Company Shakes Up North American Leadership...”


  • avatar
    Imagefont

    Dear morons over an Nissan.
    Stop putting those awful Jatco CVT’s in just about every car you build, they suck and you know it.
    Go drive a Camry and tell me you don’t like the 8-speed automatic in that thing, it’s awesome.
    Build better products, people will buy them.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Although I don’t necessarily disagree, many other automakers are converting or have converted to the use of CVTs.

      Here at TTAC there is certainly a great deal of dislike for CVTs. However is it for CVTs in general or just the Jatco ones?

      And since Nissan probably has the most experience with CVTs, could that mean that they have fixed the initial issues or are their Jatco CVTs inherently flawed?

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        The JATCO CVTs have durability and longevity issues – just follow stuff like Reddit’s justrolledintotheshop, and you’ll see posts on them on a fairly regular basis. Not all CVTs are bad – but the JATCO units are.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      Jatco sucks, but the Camry’s automatic is about the weakest thing on that car.

  • avatar
    redapple

    I m not sure CVT should be killed. Fewer parts. Less expensive. Better MPG by 10-20%. And they all dont suck.
    EX Honda Accord cvt is rated well by C&D and other buff mags.

    However, the one in the Altima sux badly. I didnt notice simulated gear shifts/steps. And the RPM went down and down as i went faster and faster. Very disconcerting.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      I have a 2014 Accord with a CVT and 2.4L four banger. It is the only 4 cyl auto drivetrain I have ever liked. I do remember renting mid 2000s Ford CUVs with CVTs and they were weird beasts. Also, recall seeing complaints about the premature failures of the first gen GM, Nissan and Ford CVTs. Sounds like they tried to sell the proverbial wine before is time and Honda waited until they mastered the technology before they released it.

      • 0 avatar
        ABC-2000

        I had a 2014 Sport and 2016 EX, both with CVT 2.4, it was great in terms of MPG but both cars had problems, when cold, the car will not move in reverse or drive for a good minute or two as if the AT is slipping, also, that whine sound in low speeds.
        There must be a good reason why Honda decided on normal AT for the V6.
        Now I drive the 2018 2.0T, I like the 10 speed much more than the CVT, and I still think Honda makes the best CVT’s out there, I did drive 2 rental Altima’s and that CVT is horrible and it’s super strange they put it on the V6 Maxima, why???

      • 0 avatar
        dangit56

        Honda introduced their first CVT back in 1992, IIRC.
        The 1992 Civic HX Coupe? It served as replacement for the CX ultra-mileage hatchback.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      I hate simulated gear shifts. Worst of both worlds. Give me a CVT that lugs along at minimal RPM for fuel economy at light throttle, then instantly zings to redline when I put my boot in it. That’s the whole point of the things: they’re not constrained to fixed ratios, so you can get maximum economy without trying to cram 10 speeds into a transmission, and maximum power without delayed downshifts and building RPM. Done right, a CVT is a fine thing.

      I dunno how it is to drive around town, but I’ve driven a rented Altima with a CVT on a road trip, and it exceeded my expectations. The fuel economy was phenomenal, and the power was there whenever I asked for it.

      I’ve driven a rented Mitsubishi Outlander with a CVT on a mountain trip, and I preferred it to the 6-speed auto in the brand-new RAV4 I got for the same trip the following weekend. The CVT did exactly what it was supposed to: constantly adjust the gear ratio to maintain the desired speed up hills, without hunting and lurching from one gear to another.

      I realize that a Jatco CVT will crap out before an engine will, but honestly, by the time it craps out, the rest of the car is 80% done anyway, and the remaining 20% of its life would have been spent as a gross polluter, given that emissions controls and engine tolerances have pretty well crapped out by that time as well.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    I guess Nissan is really hurting if they expect the US to account for ~1/3 of their sales they must be facing even greater sales declines in the rest of the world.

    They are not going to grow their US volume any time soon. They have relied heavily on rental fleet sales and bargain shoppers, the buyers that are hardest hit.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      I think you’re right – Nissan is just retreating from bad markets elsewhere. The math dictates that the u.s. share becomes larger by default.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    The brand is very popular in Mexico and other Latin American countries. I would say that 75% of the Nissan passenger cars I see around here are driven by Latinx folks.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    They still haven’t a clue what’s up, dear old Nissan. I agree with the Autoextremist, the name of the game is product, product and above all product.

    Imagine sailing off to conquer the world (well America) armed to the teeth with Altima, Rogue and Sentra. People are scrambling over themselves to get a bright shiny new one of those. It’s pandemonium I tell ya. Watch out for pirates storming auto railcar shipments!

    That Valls guy who resigned? Smart cookie

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Being the guinea pig for Nissan is too expensive a lesson. Nissan quality has been rapidly declining over the years. It’s not just Jatco CVTs its all Jatco automatics and the poor overall quality of Nissan products.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    You’re talking about a company that dropped their BOF SUV when SUV sales were starting to skyrocket.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      In all honesty, how is this in any way relevant? I’m sure the typical SUV buyer doesn’t know if what he’s test-driving is BOF or unibody, doesn’t know if or why he should care, and wouldn’t care anyeway.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Agree, many buyers don’t even know how many cylinders are under the hood either. Nissan’s problems are much greater than what type of structure their vehicle has. Nissan’s quality really took a nosedive with their partnership with Renault.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    So there’s more suckers in the US and China? I believe it.

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