New Nissan CEO rejects closer capital ties with Renault
On his first day in the new position, Makoto Uchida also pledges to repair profitability at Japan’s number two carmaker
Yokohama — Nissan is committed to its carmaking alliance with Renault but will not look to deepen its capital ties with the French carmaker any time soon, new CEO Makoto Uchida said on Monday.
On his first day in the new position, CEO also pledged to repair profitability at Japan’s number two carmaker and said setting realistic targets would be key towards that goal, as it tries to make a clean break from the leadership of former chair Carlos Ghosn.
“Closer capital ties with Renault are not a focus in the short term,” he told reporters.
Uchida became CEO of Nissan on December 1, as the carmaker tries to recover from a profit slump and draw a line under a year of turmoil after the Ghosn scandal. The ousted chair is fighting financial misconduct charges in Japan.
One of the new CEO’s big tasks is to salvage ties with Renault, which have deteriorated since Ghosn’s removal as chair of both companies.
Renault holds a 43.4% stake in Nissan after it saved the Japanese carmaker from financial ruin two decades ago, and has pushed for the two companies to merge.
In rejecting a notion of a merger with Renault, Uchida, 53, echoes his predecessor Hiroto Saikawa, who stepped down in September.
He added that the alliance must rethink how it can serve all of its three members, which also includes Mitsubishi Motors.
“The alliance has to benefit each of its partners in terms of revenue and profit,” he said. “We need to re-evaluate what has worked and what hasn’t worked in the alliance in the past few years.”
The CEO called for Nissan to set “challenging but achievable” targets, adding that this and the launch of more new car models and vehicle technologies would be crucial to its financial recovery.
Nissan is bracing for its lowest annual profit in 11 years and has slashed its dividend by 65%. Its struggles come at a time when car companies desperately need scale to keep up with sweeping technological changes such as electric vehicles and ride-hailing.
“Somewhere along the way we created a culture of setting targets which could not be achieved,” Uchida said, adding that this has resulted in a focus on short-term results.
Years of this have led Nissan to its current “difficult situation”, he said, using heavy vehicle discounting in the US market as an example of how aggressive sales targets to grow market share have deteriorated the company’s brand.