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December 4, 2019

Nissan to Step Away from "Unachievable Targets"; Focus on People and Products Under New CEO

After one shocking corporate scandal after another, Nissan hopes to have a more stable 2020 (and beyond) under the helm of their newly-installed Chief Executive Officer, Makoto Uchida. The CEO who was promoted to the top post in the Japanese carmaker effective December 1 laid down plans for increased respect, transparency, and trust.

In his first townhall, Uchida pinned the recent issues at Nissan down to the wrong corporate culture, particularly as the carmaker chased overambitious, or in his words, “unachievable” sales targets.

“I do believe that corporate culture issues arose within our operations. The biggest issue, I believe, was that a culture developed in which people had no choice but to promise that they would deliver the unachievable during the goal-setting process. This led employees to avoid taking initiative, working together, or solving issues. To hit over-ambitious growth objectives, people tended to pursue short-term gains. This affected investments in new technologies and products, and in the facilities and people that are essential for our future success. In the sales area, one example is the use of excessive incentives to spur short-term growth that ultimately undermined our brand power and profitability,” says Uchida.

With his experience at Nissan’s China joint-venture with Dongfeng, Uchida will turn his focus on people and how he plans to enact a culture “where different opinions are welcome.” Internally, he hopes to enable ownership among both executives and employees, while externally, he wants a corporate culture that listens to customers, dealers, suppliers, and a wide range of stakeholders both in and outside the organization.

Amidst profits that plunged 70 percent last quarter, and a decline in new vehicle sales globally (the worst annual sales in 6 years, actually), Uchida will turn to new products and technologies all anchored by Nissan Intelligent Mobility to boost the company’s slumping performance. Additionally, he will promote a closer collaboration with Alliance partners Renault and Mitsubishi in order to accelerate their performance recovery. He, however, maintains that Nissan will remain independent.

“I want to make Nissan a company that provides value to customers that they can only get from us because we are ahead of the curve. I want to make Nissan a company that sets the trend for the future of mobility, and never stops trying to make that future a reality. I want our employees to feel proud that they work for Nissan. If we can do this, we will regain the trust of our customers. In short, my mission is to bring together the capabilities of Nissan people to create a strong driving force for the company,” Uchida concludes.

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