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    William Maley

    Rumorpile: Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn To Become Mitsubishi Motors' Chairman

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      Carlos Ghosn could become the head of Mitsubishi Motors

    Progress seems to be going on with Nissan taking a 34 percent stake in Mitsubishi Motors. Japanese business paper The Nikkei reports that Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn will become the chairman of Mitsubishi Motors once the deal is set. Sources tell the Nikkei that current chairman and president Osamu Masuko has been asked to stay on as president. When reached for comment, spokespeople at Mitsubishi and Nissan declined to comment. However, Masuko has confirmed that he was asked to stay on as president by Ghosn. Masuko went on to say that this would be discussed further tomorrow.  

    Nissan is planning to send four of its directors, including Ghosn to Mitsubishi Motors to right the ship after it was revealed that a number of Mitsubishi vehicles had false fuel economy figures. 

    Ghosn has a track record of bringing beleaguered companies to full heath - Renault in the 1990s and Nissan in the early 2000s. Some analysts believe this is right move.

    "This is a man who patched up Renault in the 1990s, and he did a lot for Nissan in the 2000s, so I'm sure he looks at Mitsubishi Motors as a new challenge," said CLSA analyst Christopher Richter to Reuters.

    "He's a turnaround artist. This is what he does best," said Richter. Ghosn at the helm of Mitsubishi Motors' board would "remove an enormous burden from the Mitsubishi group companies."

    “It’s easier for him to do things he did at Nissan, such as combining platforms, cutting costs and even closing plants. In order to implement such massive restructuring, you need someone as powerful as Ghosn to get things going,” said Koji Endo, a Tokyo-based auto analyst at SBI Securities Co to Bloomberg.

    Others aren't too keen.

    “I think he has enough work to be done at both Renault and Nissan. He should also spend all his time in these two companies rather than taking on another job in Japan,” said Hans-Peter Wodniok, a Frankfurt-based analyst with AlphaValue.

    Source: Nikkei, (2), Reuters, Bloomberg

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      When the NV lineup was launched in 2009, Nissan was hoping to steal away sales from the Detroit Three. At the time, Ford and GM had 97 percent of the large van segment. The NV was positioned as being a more modern option compared to the Ford E-Series and Chevrolet Express/GMC Savana. It was more comfortable with adjustable seats, taller ceiling for easier access to the cargo area, and pre-drilled holes in the body to allow owners to add interior racks easily. But Nissan wasn't able to make decent inroads into this market, only achieving around an eight percent share in the marketplace.
      What was the NV's downfall?
      Brand Loyalty to the American brands Using a modified Titan platform for the larger vans comprised them in urban areas with their extended front nose, and cargo capacity. "A third of the vehicle is dedicated to the engine and passenger compartment instead of cargo. The van takes up more real estate for the same amount of cargo space," explained Sam Fiorani, vice president at AutoForecast Solutions. NV200 Taxis were dinged by taxi companies poor ride quality, difficulty entering/exiting the van for elderly passengers, and increasing maintenance costs. Proved to a be a difficult sale to fleet buyers due to the automaker lacking the numerous combinations of light-trucks that the Detroit three can offer. Trucks and vans work hand in hand to attract sales in the commercial market. "Chevrolet and Ford can be everything to everybody," said Tyler Slade, operating partner at Tim Dahle Nissan Southtowne in Salt Lake City. "When we went to some of these fleet companies, it didn't make sense for them to have trucks from Ford and vans from Nissan." Add in $2.8 billion in cuts that the company is planning to stay afloat and COVID-19, and the death knell was coming sooner than later for the NV family.
      If Nissan does go forward with dropping the NV family, this will be a major blow to about a forth of Nissan dealers in the U.S. They made various investments such as installing heavy-duty lifts capable of lifting fully-loaded vans and having a dedicated sales staff to handle specific fleet issues.
      "Dealers now have serious concerns about their investments in commercial vehicles," said Slade.
      There is also the question as to whether Nissan may try again. Automotive News notes that in the new business strategy outlined last month, Nissan is wanting more global cooperation with its alliance partner Renault. The French automaker already has a number of vans in its lineup and is quite successful in various markets. Nissan already sells a version of the Renault Traffic, called the NV300 in Europe.
      But getting a Renault van into the U.S. as a Nissan will be difficult and costly in terms of homologation. Also, Nissan would still need to figure out how to appeal to larger fleet buyers that go with Ford or GM.
      Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), The Drive
      Pic Credit: William Maley for Cheers & Gears

      View full article
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