Nissan CEO focuses on Toyota in sales race

Ghosn sets new goals in market share quest

Ghosn sets new goals in market share quest

Ghosn: Fine-tuning is a constant.

YOKOHAMA, Japan — Nissan Motor Co. CEO Carlos Ghosn, aiming to grab 10 percent of the U.S. market, is already looking past Honda Motor Co. to the next rival in his quest to conquest share.

In his sights is Toyota Motor Corp. Ghosn said Nissan will be “closing the gap” with the world’s No. 1 carmaker by 2020.

This month’s reshuffle of Nissan’s U.S. management team will propel the company to its 10 percent market share goal over the next 15 months and set the stage for further growth, Ghosn said.

Along the way, the combined share of Nissan and Infiniti should eclipse that of Honda and Acura. And by 2020, Nissan North America’s slice of the regional market should be more than 10 percent and zeroing in on Toyota, Lexus and Scion, Ghosn said.

“In North America, we should be above 10 percent market share, going toward closing the gap with Toyota,” Ghosn said of his 2020 vision during a media roundtable at global headquarters here.

Ghosn’s heightened hopes come as the combined Nissan and Infiniti market share has stalled at 8.5 percent despite 12 months of new model launches and aggressive marketing.

But the results still beat those of its key rivals. Through November, American Honda’s share slipped to 9.1 percent from 9.3 percent a year earlier, while Toyota Motor Sales’ share dipped to 14.3 percent from 14.4 percent.

Nissan’s U.S. standing compared with its big Japan rivals has long been a sore point. Nissan outsells Honda, for instance, in every market except two: Japan and the U.S.

This month, Nissan overhauled its North American management team to strengthen the effort.

Fred Diaz, senior vice president of U.S. sales and marketing and operations, stepped down to a new vice president-level job created to oversee trucks. Replacing him is Christian Meunier, president of Nissan Canada for the past three years.

Ghosn said the change aims to prod Nissan’s push past 10 percent and cultivate the company’s global talent pool by rotating more foreign executives through the U.S. business.

“You’re going to see us fine-tuning the organization all the time,” he said, calling the 10 percent market share “a new reality from which we are going to be moving forward.”

In reviewing the company’s global operations, Ghosn cited North America as being Nissan’s healthiest market.

“Both in Canada and the United States and Mexico,” he said, “the performance of Nissan today is at least on track if not in advance of what we want to achieve.”

Nissan North America’s U.S. sales, which include Nissan and Infiniti brands, rose 6 percent to 1,345,618 vehicles through November, in an overall market up 5.4 percent. In contrast, sales rose 2.3 percent for American Honda, including both Honda and Acura brands, and 4.7 percent for Toyota Motor Sales, which includes Toyota, Scion and Lexus brands.

Said Ghosn: “The trend is good. The team is strong. The dealers are motivated.”

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