José Muñoz, who resigned as Nissan’s chief performance office r in January, is now on the Hyundai payroll. Muñoz jumped ship as turmoil roiled Nissan’s upper ranks and investigations began in the wake of former chairman Carlos Ghosn’s arrest.
The exec, seen as a close ally to Ghosn, previously served as chairman of the automaker’s North American business — a region he’s returning to, albeit with another automaker.
Nissan’s chief performance officer, José Muñoz, has resigned from the company amid an broadened investigation into former chairman Carlos Ghosn’s alleged financial misconduct. Muñoz, 54, who also headed up Nissan’s Chinese business, previous had his hand on the tiller of the company’s North American operations.
Muñoz’s sudden departure, which comes just days after the exec took a leave of absence, points to turmoil in the upper ranks of the Japanese automaker, with one insider calling it a “purge.”
Nissan Motor Company is moving senior vice president and chairman of Renault Eurasia, Denis Le Vot, westward to succeed Jose Munoz as president and chairman of Nissan North America. While Munoz will persist as the brand’s global chief performance officer, Le Vot will take over his regional duties.
A french native, Le Vot joined Renault in 1990 and soon moved up the ranks — eventually being appointed to the brand’s management committee in 2015 and AvtoVAZ’s board of directors the following year. The Nissan executive board in Yokohama, Japan, approved his new appointment in a meeting on Tuesday. However, the title doesn’t become official until January 16th.
Earlier this year, the big bosses at Nissan expressed their desire to grab a full 5 percent of pickup truck market share in the United States. However, chasing arbitrary targets has now fallen in favor of smart growth.
Still, lighting a fire under the brand seems to have worked, with Nissan moving nearly 1.5 million units in 2016, almost a million more annual sales than 15 years ago. With those numbers in mind, the company is acknowledging it’ll soon need a new assembly plant in America.
Nissan announced Tuesday that it would move current U.S. chief Fred Diaz to focus on truck sales for North America and promote Nissan’s chief in Canada, Christian Meunier, to lead the group in North America.
“We are now poised to capitalize on the significant investments we have made in our trucks with the launch of the all-new Nissan Titan, and these changes will support our ability to do so,” Nissan North America chairman Jose Munoz said in a statement announcing the changes.
In his new role, Diaz will oversee truck sales — Titan and Frontier — for all of North America to help jumpstart that brand from a minor player to a more serious contender. He was previously head of Ram brand for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles before joining Nissan in 2013.
Carlos Ghosn has shuffled Nissan Motor Co.’s top management, elevating Jose Munoz to head the company in North America, while eliminating the Chief Operating Officer position in the home office. COO Toshiyuki Shiga is becoming vice chairman and the responsibilities of his former job will be split between Hiroto Saikawa, Andy Palmer and Trevor Mann.
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