Nissan’s new CEO leading recovery from Carlos Ghosn scandal
Nissan Motor Co. named its Chinese joint venture manager as CEO as the carmaker tries to resolve tensions owing to the arrest and restoration of its ex-Chairman’s shaky relationship with Renault SA.
Makoto Uchida, 53 years of age, will be joining Ashwani Gupta, who was named COO, and Jun Seki, former COO of Nissan in China, as the Board said on Tuesday.
Nissan’s third boss will need to tackle declining profits and stressful Renault relations as well as massive restructuring in as many years.
In an international partnership with Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan is shocked by the conviction of his former leader, Carlos Ghosn, almost one year ago, for financial crimes that he has refuted.
Uchida headed a joint venture between Nissan and China. Like many major automakers, Nissan counts the nation as its one-largest market, which in recent years has generated about a quarter of its operating sales. The management joined Nissan from Nissho Iwai Corp. in 2003 and asked Renault’s favour, the people said, owing to their collaboration with the French carmaker in joint procurement.
Notable for his experience abroad, Uchida also worked in South Korea with Renault Samsung. He studied theology at the university of Doshisha, an uncommon history for someone in the automotive industry.
At a crucial stage for Nissan, the Nissan board was under pressure to pick a new president, who posted 10-year low profits and proposed 12,500 job cuts as he tried to turn around. Automotive sales are slowing down around the world, and new technologies from self-driving cars to electricity disrupt the industry.
“New vehicle production must be intensified in domestic and international consolidation, though management cooperation with Renault and efforts to improve productivity are at odds,” said Koji Endo, an analyst at SBI Securities Co., before the appointment announcement.
“There’s so much to do.”
Gupta was one of Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard’s top-ranking rivals because he was seen as a member of the three-carmaker partnership. Located in Dehradun, India, he graduated from Jawaharlal Nehru Engineering College, India and graduated from the French business school INSEAD.
In 1992, the 49-year-old started his career in private sector manufacturing and purchasing and eventually left Honda Motor Co. in India and Japan in 1996. Gupta was general manager of procurement at Renault India in Mumbai in 2006, while the international distributor account manager for braking systems joined the Renault Nissan Purchasing Organization in France in 2008.