By on December 2, 2019

Nissan’s new chief executive, Makoto Uchida, believes now is the time to reassess its corporate partnership with Renault. In case this is the first automotive-related article you’ve read this year, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is sickly. Bizarre financial scandals involving the group’s former chairman Carlos Ghosn (and others), internal power struggles, serious money troubles — the situation is rife with headaches. But Uchida says the only way to cope is to publicly recognize the elephant in the room and see what can be done.

“The alliance is critical to reach our goals,” Uchida said at Nissan’s headquarters in Yokohama on Monday. “We need to look at what worked within the alliance, and what didn’t, and decide how to go forward.” (Read More…)

By on November 22, 2019

Carlos Ghosn

Carlos Ghosn, former head of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, has been allowed to see his wife Carole for the first time in seven months. Fortunately for Ghosn, the pair actually wanted to speak and had been complaining about this throughout their time apart. Indicted on various charges we’ve covered to death, Japanese courts decided last April that it was too big of a risk to let the couple interact. The fear was that the duo would somehow conspire or possibly tamper with evidence.

The suspension of their separation appears to be limited event, however. The Tokyo District Court only agreed to allow a single meeting after Ghosn’s legal council began pushing for softer bail conditions over the summer.  (Read More…)

By on October 28, 2019

Watching Mitsubishi return from death’s door has been less exciting than the first part of this sentence makes it sound. Part of that stems from the automaker’s position as a multinational corporation that has lost its way and not some down-on-his-luck boxer you’re supposed to be rooting for in a movie. Even if you were inclined to clap for corporate comebacks, Mitsubishi hasn’t earned its standing ovation just yet.

While the brand’s U.S. sales have improved every year since 2013, progress has been gradual. Last year, Mitsubishi moved 118,074 autos inside America — the best it has managed since before the Great Recession, but nowhere near its 2002 high of 345,915 deliveries. That might paint the situation a bit darker than it actually is, however.

Mitsubishi has actually managed to retain customers in China far better than it could in the U.S. and its European sales are higher than they’ve ever been. The Japanese firm also has a strong footprint in numerous developing markets around the world. But North America has historically been an extremely important market for Mitsubishi, and it wants its market share back, so it’s making some additional changes.  (Read More…)

By on October 24, 2019

Legal representatives for former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn are requesting Japanese courts dismiss all charges against him on the grounds that prosecutors violated his rights. The filings were submitted ahead of Thursday’s pre-trial hearing before the Tokyo District Court and represent the first real look we’ve had at Ghosn’s defense — which, until now, has just involved him repeatedly professing his innocence.

The core issues focus on accusations of illegal evidence collection and a Nissan-led conspiracy to place him behind bars. But Ghosn’s legal team has also established rebuttals to the charges leveled against him. While those will only come into play if the trial moves forward, we’re skeptical that the case will be dissolved. But let’s begin a little closer to the beginning.  (Read More…)

By on October 22, 2019

Now that the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance has its upper echelon sorted, the time has come to mend the partnership properly. With the new staffers healthily distanced from the old guard of the Ghosn era, Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard is giving himself one year to fix things before considering the entire issue a “failure, on a personal level, and by our teams.”

Senard didn’t explain the benchmarks for success, and twelve months doesn’t allot much time to right a ship that’s been listing for several years. Rumors exist that Renault may even be looking to ditch Nissan for becoming too much of a burden. Meanwhile, the Japanese automaker’s former CEO, Hiroto Saikawa, estimated the company’s vast restructuring efforts would not significantly improve profitability for at least another year.

However, most of what we’ve heard from Nissan and Renault leadership includes a concerted effort to restore trust within the auto alliance and strengthen industrial ties. Contentious merger talks have also fallen by the wayside and are unlikely to crop up after Renault’s own profitability warning from earlier this month.  (Read More…)

By on October 18, 2019

Even though Makoto Uchida hasn’t officially assumed his role as Nissan’s new CEO, the incoming boss hasn’t wasted time reassuring employees that his main focus will be restoring the business’ financial performance. “Nissan is on the right path for recovery … although it might be a gradual process,” he told workers on Friday.

Reuters shared details of the event, adding that Uchida expressed the importance of rebuilding trust with both the public and the greater Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. It’s no secret that the business relationship between the French and Japanese automakers has grown strained, leaving many wondering if the next CEO would attempt to run back into the strong arms of Renault or move the company further away.  (Read More…)

By on October 11, 2019

Renault’s board of directors met today to decide the fate of CEO Thierry Bolloré. Though we should say ex-CEO, because they fired him.

As the most recent executive to become subject to the management shakeup that’s bent on removing anyone within the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance with ties to defamed founder Carlos Ghosn, Bolloré called the board’s decision surprising (it wasn’t). Speaking with France’s Les Échoshe contended that he was more concerned with the wellbeing of Renault than corporate politics and expressed fears that the alliance could be falling apart as Japan aggressively seeks to remove more Ghosn-era hires.

“I appeal to the highest level of the State shareholder, guarantor of the rules of good governance, not to destabilize Renault, flagship of our French industry,” he said. “This coup is very disturbing, it is very important to understand the ins and outs of what is happening in Japan.” (Read More…)

By on October 9, 2019

The French media is reporting that Renault CEO Thierry Bolloré could be removed as part of a greater initiative to clean house within the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. As usual, the cornerstone of the controversy stems from the executive’s close ties to Carlos Ghosn.

That relationship makes him suspect, as numerous high-ranking employees at Nissan are currently under suspicion of having helped or benefited from the alleged financial misdeeds surrounding the ousted chairman. In fact, the Japanese automaker had to select a new CEO in short order after information emerged implicating former corporate head Hiroto Saikawa — encouraging his September resignation.

Now there’s a campaign in place to distance the automaker from Ghosn-era hires and legacy staffers with deep links to him. Everyone expects Renault to do the same.  (Read More…)

By on October 7, 2019

On Tuesday, a subset of Nissan’s board intends to request access to a list of 80 Nissan employees suspected of aiding former Chairman Carlos Ghosn in his alleged financial malfeasance. Assembled by Nissan’s former audit chief, Christina Murray, and company, the document compiles actions taken by staffers believed to have assisted Ghosn directly or attempted to impede the resulting investigations.

Among them is Hari Nada, Nissan’s vice president, who oversees the company’s legal department. Despite being instrumental in Ghosn’s November arrest by acting as a whistleblower to Japanese authorities, along with Toshiaki Onuma, his role as one of the ousted executive’s many confidants has placed him under suspicion — as did his reluctance to recuse himself from the company’s legal affairs.

Nada is now being pressured to resign. However, it’s not clear if this is the result of any actual wrongdoing or an internal power struggle happening inside the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. Considering the power vacuum created by Ghosn’s arrest and the swift retirement of ex-CEO Hiroto Saikawa (who also makes the 80-person list), both scenarios seem equally plausible.  (Read More…)

By on October 3, 2019

The hunt for Nissan’s next chairman has been narrowed to three potential candidates. Their final challenge will be impressing Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard. According to reports, Senard spent the better part of Tuesday interviewing Renault-Nissan veterans — via teleconference or face-to-face meetings in Paris.

Considering the laundry list of problems Nissan currently faces, it’s difficult to imagine why anybody would want the job. Maybe it’s the sizable paychecks or perhaps an eagerness to turn things around at the automaker. Either way, whoever Nissan ends up with will have at least as much as they can handle.

Let’s take a look at the candidates.  (Read More…)

By on September 25, 2019

While the proposed merger between Renault and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was stymied after the French government refused to sign off on the deal without support from Renault’s Japanese partners, Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard has indicated he’s still keen on the idea.

Nissan’s reluctance to endorse the arrangement last June may have queered the deal, but things are evolving. The Japanese automaker has strived to reduce Renault’s influence in the automotive alliance, especially since the November arrest of Carlos Ghosn. Unfortunately for Nissan, ex-CEO Hiroto Saikawa was also caught up in the financial scandal — forcing him to resign. The Japanese automaker is now seeking a permanent replacement while CFO Yasuhiro Yamauchi runs things in the interim.

While it’s unlikely to make Japanese shareholders supportive of French involvement, it does provide an opportunity for Nissan to find a new chief executive who’s a bit more sympathetic to Renault’s desires.  (Read More…)

By on September 23, 2019

On Monday, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that Nissan and its former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, are on the hook for $16 million in fines. The SEC alleges that the automaker failed to disclose millions of dollars in compensation that the former Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance chairman was due to receive via a 2004 board decision that allowed him to decide the compensation of high-ranking executives — including himself.

Reports from Bloomberg stipulate that Ghosn and subordinates managed to withhold over $90 million in compensation from shareholders since 2009, with the ousted CEO attempting to put another $50 million away for his retirement allowance.  (Read More…)

By on September 3, 2019

Former Renault-Nissan Alliance director Arnaud Deboeuf is leaving Renault to chase sunnier pursuits at French rival PSA. It’s no secret that the relationship between Nissan and Renault has become severely strained, however, Deboeuf’s departure throws more light on how personal issues are impacting the broader business. He effectively blamed Renault CEO Thierry Bolloré for his leaving the alliance.

“Thierry Bolloré told me no one wanted to work with me … and that I could not go to work at Nissan either,” Deboeuf explained in a final letter to his colleges.  (Read More…)

By on August 27, 2019

Despite vans being slightly more popular than getting a thumb in the eye, Mercedes-Benz is sticking with them. Earlier in the month, the automaker revealed the production version of its 252-mile (we’ll see) EQV. Essentially an electrified version of the plush V-Class/Metris, the model will likely serve a very specific subset of the population.

On the other end of the spectrum, Daimler has been mulling over what should be done about the Citan. As the smallest van in MB’s range, the Citan also has the lowest point of entry. However, sales are roughly one-sixth what the V-Class sees in Europe, making it a plausible candidate for discontinuation. But it was not to be. On Friday, Daimler announced it will keep its smallest MPV on the table.  (Read More…)

By on June 19, 2019

Without the glue that was Carlos Ghosn holding the Renault-Nissan Alliance together, some of the partnership’s joint-business operations are reportedly being disbanded as corporate relations continue to sour. Nissan quietly started dissolving the Office of the CEO in April, after a special corporate governance committee claimed it was one of the reasons why it was so difficult to detect Ghosn’s alleged financial misconduct.

The Japanese automaker has since sought to rejigger its own management structure, as per the committee’s suggestions, however Renault intends on blocking those governance changes. Now the Financial Times is reporting that the two companies are gradually unwinding departments providing oversight for collaborative efforts related to light commercial vehicles, sales and marketing, communications and more.  (Read More…)

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