‘New products, tech, Nissan Intelligent Mobility a blueprint for our future’: CEO Makoto Uchida

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 02 Dec 2019


Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida: "Nissan has always pursued technological excellence and has embraced diverse opinions without sticking too much to a specific set of values."

Japanese carmaker Nissan Motor Corp has been battling a slew of growth- and brand-impacting events in the recent past. The company's management and its pact with Alliance partners have been in the news for not all the right reasons. In fact, today, as part of the carmaker's inauguration press conference, the new CEO, Makoto Uchida began his speech by expressing "sincere regret for any concerns caused by the events of the past year. I cannot overstate how seriously we are taking this situation."

He mentioned how the company values its global alliance, which saw the "well-known strengths that came from being a Japanese organisation, as well as the global value of the Alliance."

During his address, he also mentioned that the Alliance saw "many areas in which we made breakthroughs. However, the recent issues around final inspections in Japan and executive misconduct revealed serious operational management issues and weak corporate governance. This didn’t just damage our reputation; by trying to hit over-ambitious goals, we caused a rapid decline in our performance. So, how did we end up with all these issues, despite all the growth and development we had achieved?"

"In my view, Nissan has always pursued technological excellence and has embraced diverse opinions without sticking too much to a specific set of values. We have created numerous breakthrough products and technologies that were ahead of the curve. Similarly, we achieved management breakthroughs with the Alliance structure in order to compete globally; we overcame our financial difficulties in the 90s, and put the organisation back on the path to growth. I find it hard to believe that all of the underlying management or business principles were misguided. However, 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," said Uchida.

Respect, transparency, trust: guiding mantras for the future
The CEO said that the new management will now work closely "to run the businesses effectively, which will be guided by three key words — respect, transparency, and trust.” Nissan says there is a need to take a global approach to its business and adapt to the societal changes that CASE— connected, autonomous, electric and shared—technologies will bring.

Uchida said that at the same time, "We should carefully examine where we are today, and think about how much we can stretch to determine the right approach and set the right goals. We have got to set objectives that are challenging but achievable and understandable."

Strengthen US operations, improve efficiencies and new products, tech
Uchida says as Nissan’s CEO he intends to strengthen the company and is working on a business transformation based on three pillars: rebuilding the strength of US operations, improving efficiencies of operations and investments, and fostering steady growth through new products, new technologies, and Nissan Intelligent Mobility.

"As we said at our first-half earnings, we are making progress with our initiatives in the United States and in improving the efficiencies of our operations and investments. Some people have seen this plan as simply about efficiencies and restructuring, but actually the most important pillar of the business transformation is growth through new products, new technologies, and Nissan Intelligent Mobility. It is, in fact, a blueprint for our future. It is about being better organised as we develop new models and continue delivering attractive products that customers can buy at the right time and at the right price," added Uchida.

He said that the company is strengthening its readiness for future changes in the business and has started working on a new planning formula. Nissan believes that Alliance is essential to its performance recovery and steadfast growth in the future. He said the company intends to continue its "Alliance efforts while maintaining Nissan’s independence."

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