Top 10 Car Manufacturers: Nissan Motor Corporation



Colin Pawsey
08/08/2014

#7: Nissan Motor Corporation

A brief history

Jidosha-Seizo Co. Ltd was established in 1933, taking over manufacturing of all Datsun vehicles, which were first produced as early as 1914. In 1934 the company name was changed to Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. The first small-size Datsun passenger cars were produced at the Yokohama plant in 1935.

Nissan had a difficult time during the war years, and production of Datsun passenger cars didn’t resume in 1947. In 1953 the company was rocked by disputes between workers and management which led to a 100-day strike. With the conflict resolved Nissan continued to grow throughout the 50’s, developing a partnership with British car maker Austin to manufacture and sell Austin vehicles in Japan. By the end of the decade Nissan had begun to export Datsun cars to America, and in 1960 established Nissan Motor Corporation USA, in California.

During the 1960’s Nissan began exporting vehicles to Europe, and in 1966 merged with Prince Motor Company, bringing up-market models, Skyline and Gloria, into its range. The fuel crisis in the 1970’s led to a growth in popularity in America, after the Nissan Sunny finished first in fuel economy tests carried out by the U.S. Environmental Agency in 1973. By the end of the 70’s total cumulative exports had reached 10 million units.

In the early 1980’s Nissan acquired an equity stake in Spanish automaker, Motor Iberica S.A., and also established Nissan Motor Manufacturing Corporation USA (NMMC), in Smyrna, Tennessee. In 1984 Nissan established Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd in Sunderland, England, and by 1988 also established Nissan European Technical Centre Ltd in the UK. The Datsun brand was phased out during the 1980’s and all vehicles worldwide were sold under the Nissan brand thereafter.

The 1990’s saw Nissan continue its growth in Europe as it established further manufacturing and technical centres in Germany and Spain. In 1999 Nissan signed an agreement with Renault to form a global alliance, which at the time created the world’s fourth largest mass productive automotive group, with annual production of almost 5 million vehicles, and a combined workforce of 265,000.

With the company on the verge of bankruptcy in 1999, then Chief Operating Officer, Carlos Ghosn, announced the Nissan Revival Plan, and has been credited with turning the fortunes of the company around.

Founded 1933
Headquarters Yokohama, Japan
Revenue (2013) $104.6 Billion (Year ending 31/3/14)
Pre-tax profit (2013) $4.97 Billion (Year ending 31/3/14)
Employees worldwide 160,530
Vehicle sales (2013) 5.1 Million
CEO Carlos Ghosn

CEO

 photo Carlos_Ghosn_nissan_zpsc4f56e72.jpg

Carlos Ghosn initially served at Renault from 1996 as Executive Vice President, with specific responsibility for research, manufacturing, purchasing and engineering & development. After Renault and Nissan signed their strategic alliance, he became Chief Operating Officer at Nissan in 1999. He held that position until he was appointed CEO of Nissan in 2001. Since 2005 he has concurrently served as President and CEO of Renault, and also serves in the position of Chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance.

Ghosn was not generally popular when he took over at Nissan, due to not speaking Japanese, but orchestrated a turnaround in fortunes which saved the company from bankruptcy in the late 1990’s. His Nissan Revival Plan of cutting costs and increasing revenue involved the closure of five factories and reduction of the workforce by 21,000, but in his first 18 months in the job he had made Nissan profitable again. This financial turnaround enhanced his reputation, and in 2009 this was recognised by U.S. President Barack Obama, who asked him to run General Motors. He declined the offer, preferring to develop Nissan and Renault, investing heavily in electric vehicle technology and the development of the Nissan Leaf electric car.

Mission

Nissan’s vision is ‘Enriching people’s lives’, and the company’s mission statement is: ‘Nissan provides unique and innovative automotive products and services that deliver superior measurable values to all stakeholders in alliance with Renault’.

Carlos Ghosn is a chief proponent of the Leaf electric vehicle, and highlighted three key strategies for the company’s future in his message as CEO: Electric and fuel cell vehicles that are attractive, fun-to-drive cars with the appealing benefit of zero emissions; global entry cars that make mobility more accessible and affordable for all; and innovative technological advances that are good for the environment, enhance safety, improve dynamic performance or provide greater life-on-board satisfaction.

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