By on April 9, 2019

Out on bail and awaiting trial, former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn was arrested in Japan last week for the fourth time since November — putting the kibosh on a scheduled press conference where he promised to “tell the truth” about what’s been going on.

While Ghosn’s supposed bombshell will have to wait for another day, he did manage to get word out from prison in a personal video message to the world. (Read More…)

By on March 28, 2019

The arrest of Carlos Ghosn, former head of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, seemed a rather straightforward back in November. By the time he was changing into his orange pajamas (or whatever color is most common in Japanese prisons), Nissan chief executive Hiroto Saikawa announced Ghosn had been dismissed from the company’s board. At the time, he claimed Ghosn and his top aide (Greg Kelly) underreported their compensation and misused corporate assets.

However, it wasn’t long until the narrative grew more complex. Following global accusations that Japanese courts could not be counted on for fair treatment, due to their ludicrously high 99-percent conviction rate, Ghosn began telling the press he believed he was on the receiving end of a corporate coup devised by Nissan. Slowly but surely, minor evidence supporting his claims trickled in.

On Wednesday, an external committee reviewing Nissan’s corporate governance suggested that enough facts exist to suspect Carlos of violating securities law and misusing company funds. However, the committee’s findings include a line indicating that Saikawa signed off on Ghosn’s retirement package.  (Read More…)

By on March 27, 2019

Renault reportedly wants to restart merger talks with Nissan next year and is even considering a follow-up marriage with another automaker — possibly Fiat Chrysler.

While the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s official goals for 2019 are difficult to pin down, a memorandum of understanding was recently established to improve corporate synergy and reassure the public that members can play nice after the drama-filled arrest of Carlos Ghosn. However, it would seem that the long game still includes mergers.

Earlier this month, top executives from Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi appeared together to prove to the world that the alliance is not in jeopardy. It was known that Ghosn had been advocating for a merger against Nissan’s wishes for years, and many, including the defamed former alliance boss, have speculated that the associated pressures aided in the company acting against him in order to see him brought up on charges.

(Read More…)

By on March 13, 2019

A meeting rumored to be targeted at developing a new board to oversee the Renault-Mitsubishi-Nissan Alliance took place earlier this week at Nissan’s global headquarters, sans Carlos Ghosn, with the automakers agreeing to a consensus-based governing strategy. At the heart of this pact is the need to diffuse tensions between France and Japan.

If you’ll recall, Nissan had grown perturbed by its perceived lack of autonomy within the alliance and repeated merger talk coming from Ghosn prior to his arrest. The man himself claimed that the corporate conflict is ultimately what led to his undoing — suggesting Nissan’s CEO simply wanted him out of the picture before he was fired. (Read More…)

By on March 8, 2019

Nissan’s Chief Executive Officer, Hiroto Saikawa, apparently intends to stick around a little longer than previously expected. According to unnamed Nissan staffers who spoke to Bloomberg, the CEO told executives he plans to stay at least three more years to help the automaker recover from the aftermath of the scandal involving Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance head Carlos Ghosn — despite recently signalling his intent step down in the near future.

Saikawa was hand-picked by Ghosn as Nissan CEO in 2017. However, the two grew increasingly distant as talk of a potential merger with alliance partner Renault began to swell. In fact, Ghosn was actively working toward combining the companies up until his November arrest — which he attributed to interference from Nissan.

While still incarcerated, Ghosn admitted he was not pleased with Saikawa’s performance, and had been considering removing him from his role within the company. The Nissan CEO had taken a hardline stance against the merger, choosing to support Japanese interests first.  (Read More…)

By on February 1, 2019


Depending who you ask, the November arrest of disgraced auto executive Carlos Ghosn was either swift justice or a coup d’etat — with some help from the Japanese government. Re-arrested in December and held ever since without bail, Ghosn faces breach of trust charges alleging the exec covered losses incurred through foreign exchanges with Nissan’s funds between 2008 and 2012. Those losses add up to $16.6 million, according to the prosecution. He’s also cited for misrepresenting his income.

However, Ghosn doesn’t see things that way. On Wednesday, he told the Nikkei business daily that he believed the charges against him were motivated by Nissan executives opposed to further integration with its French alliance partner, Renault SA. “All the evidence is with Nissan and Nissan forbids all employees to talk to me,” he elaborated. (Read More…)

By on January 25, 2019

Image: Nissan

Claiming he wants a fresh start for the scandal-rocked Renault-Nissan Alliance, Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa announced on Friday his intention to move aside in the coming months, giving someone else a chance to run the company.

Alliance partner Renault divested itself of former CEO Carlos Ghosn this week, two months after the executive’s Tokyo arrest. With this in mind, Saikawa, who denounced the alliance boss at length following news of his arrest, suggested a change in leadership would be a good thing for Nissan, too. However, there’s work to be done first. (Read More…)

By on May 23, 2018

Carlos Ghosn

As Renault and Nissan discuss ways to strengthen their bond, Carlos Ghosn is asking everyone to slow their roll on the prospect of a merger. Despite continuously nudging the alliance in that direction, the CEO and chairman is often hesitant to discuss unification as anything more than a hypothetical. So this is par for the course.

“I don’t think you’re going to see it this year or next,” Ghosn said on Wednesday. “Lots of mergers collapse and destroy value — the strength of any company is the ability to motivate people, and how how are you going to do that if some of these people consider themselves second-class citizens.”

The second-class citizens he’s referencing are, presumably, Nissan employees seeking more influence within the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. A large part of the group’s current strategy is to find ways to give the Japanese automaker more of a say in product development and operations. (Read More…)

By on May 18, 2018

nissan emblem badge logo

Carlos Ghosn, chairman of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, has made it clear that his ideal solution for all three automakers is to stop pussyfooting around and enter into a full-on merger. Officially, there’s no deal in the works. “Any discussion about a share transaction involving Renault, Nissan or the French state is pure speculation,” explained alliance spokesman Jonathan Adashek earlier this month.

Unofficially, things are quite different. Renault and Nissan are both committed to maintaining a healthy and strong relationship, but the French government is hesitant to even suggest the possibility of abandoning its stake in Renault. For political reasons, it can’t seem as if the company is being relinquished to Japanese interests vis-à-vis a corporate takeover. Therefore, an accord has to be reached to provide Renault with some level of autonomy — or a lie has to be crafted to make it look that way.

While Ghosn previously denied any possibility of a merger, he began claiming it was a very real possibility this year. Having already developed a structure that would see management of Renault, Nissan, and eventually Mitsubishi Motors overseen by a Dutch foundation based in Amsterdam, the chairman suggested it (or something like it) could also serve as a mediator for their integration as a singular global automotive group. But the French Ministry for the Economy and Finance said that wouldn’t be a possibility. So what’s the solution?

Baby steps. (Read More…)

By on March 16, 2018

Steel Worker

Earlier this month, President Trump signed an executive order imposing a 25 percent tariff on foreign steel and a 10 percent tariff on foreign aluminum. Hoping to receive an exception, the Japanese auto lobby warned that the U.S. import tax would definitely inflate the price of models built by the companies it represents. That’s bad news.

However, the White House has already omitted its NAFTA partners from the tariffs, adding that it would consider further exceptions based on countries’ contributions to U.S. national security, military alliances, trading history, and how much they pay into strategic alliances like NATO.

While Japan is a longtime trading partner with the U.S., there currently exists a $69 billion deficit between the two countries. Trump also bemoaned Japan’s unwillingness to accept American imports. Still, the two have shared military alliances throughout the 20th century, with one ugly exception during World War II. They currently operate under the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security and the U.S. currently considers the Japan one of its closest allies, despite it not being a NATO member — placing it in reasonably positive standing for tariff exceptions.  (Read More…)

By on February 12, 2018

nissan emblem badge logo

Nissan has long-standing tradition in North America of being a bargain brand. While the automaker fields plenty of affordable options with a base MSRP undercutting that of its rivals, it has also leaned on aggressive incentivizing and heavy fleet sales. This helped Nissan chase volume in the U.S., but CEO Hiroto Saikawa is no longer convinced it’s a winning strategy.

He’s tasking Denis Le Vot, Nissan’s new North American boss, to improve profitability and brand value after the company’s operating profit dipped 50 percent in the region in the last quarter of 2017.

It’s a tall order for Le Vot, who has only had a little over one month to settle into being the regional chairman for the brand, and Saikawa is only giving him another two to figure out how to pull it off. However, he’s hinting at a strategy that eases off dealers, offers fewer market incentives, and ditches a reliance on fleet sales.  (Read More…)

By on November 17, 2017

infiniti nissan factory japan

On Friday, Nissan Motor Co. blamed a shortage of key staff for improper final inspection procedures at Japanese assembly plants. The problem, which amounts to little more than not having having a specially certified technician give each vehicle a final once-over, has forced the automaker to recall 1.2 million vehicles within Japan this year. As the mandate applies only to vehicles sold on the nation’s domestic market, no exports to North America are affected.

However, that hasn’t stopped Japan’s government from coming down hard on the company for its bureaucratic misstep. After discovering that uncertified inspectors were signing off on vehicle checks required by the transport ministry, Nissan has been incredibly apologetic. It even launched a full-scale investigation, finding that “nonconforming final inspections” were commonplace by the 1990s at the plants, and could even have existed at one factory since 1979.  (Read More…)

By on November 13, 2017

2017 Nissan Rogue Sport and Rogue - Image: Nissan

From the depths of the recession to 2016, Nissan’s U.S. volume doubled — from a six-year low of just over 689,000 vehicles in 2009 to over 1.4 million last year. Not a bad track record for any automaker.

However, as the sales landscape cools off after the post-recession boom, Nissan’s new leader feels it’s a better idea to hold a steady course, rather than gunning the sales throttles to meet a pre-selected sales target. In fact, those targets are now a thing of the past. (Read More…)

By on April 10, 2017

2017 Nissan LEAF
Consumer demand may be the driving force behind automakers shifting assembly line production toward crossover vehicles, but there is another trend that has nothing to do with modern-day sales. Electric vehicles have a small but loyal consumer base and the majority of carmakers seem poised to ensure the next decade caters directly to them — whether it be through pure BEVs or hybridized powertrains.

However, not every manufacturer has its electrified ducks in a row. Despite hitting its mark with the Leaf EV, Nissan has been resting on its laurels since 2010 and hasn’t made the same sort of technological promises that Volkswagen Group or Ford cannot help but keep repeating… over and over again. Nissan’s chief planning officer Philippe Klein even admitted in January that his company’s EV prospects are dim and something needs to be done.   (Read More…)

By on April 10, 2017

Mitsubishi Lancer GT

With Carlos Ghosn out as Nissan’s chief executive, Hiroto Saikawa has some well broken-in shoes to fill as the brand’s new CEO. Only ten days into the job, Saikawa says he doesn’t want to stray too far from groundwork laid by his predecessor. However, both men face an interesting problem in deciding what should be done with Mitsubishi.

Ghosn loves a fixer-upper and has already decided to dedicate much of his time to bringing Mitsubishi back from the brink, now that it’s part of the Renault–Nissan Alliance. He managed to help Nissan out of its decade-long slump in the early 2000s, so perhaps he can do the same for Mitsubishi now. However, according to Saikawa, that’s going to involve carefully assimilating the struggling automaker into the greater alliance.

That could mean taking Mitsubishi by the hand and offering it European models wearing the three-diamond emblem.  (Read More…)

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