TOKYO -- Nissan Motor Co. is elevating Executive Vice President Hiroto Saikawa to a newly created position of chief competitive officer that encompasses oversight of global manufacturing, supply chain management, r&d and customer satisfaction.
The sweeping portfolio upgrade comes in addition to Saikawa's role in charge of purchasing and regional businesses in Asia, Oceania and Japan, the company said in a statement today.
The promotion lifts Saikawa, sometimes fingered as a possible successor to CEO Carlos Ghosn, closer to the top and puts other executive vice presidents reporting to him.
The consolidation of responsibilities is part of a wider management shuffle at Japan's second-biggest automaker.
Another change: COO Toshiyuki Shiga gets authority over Nissan's global zero emissions business, which includes the company's line of electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf.
Hideaki Watanabe, currently the corporate vice president for zero emissions and a public face of the program, will leave the company and become senior vice president for electronics at the Nissan-affiliated supplier Calsonic Kansei Corp.
The appointments take effect April 1.
Reporting to Saikawa will be Executive Vice President Mitsuhiko Yamashita, who oversees r&d, and Executive Vice President Hidetoshi Imazu, in charge of manufacturing and supply chain management, Nissan spokesman Chris Keeffe said.
"The idea is to achieve significant and sustained improvements in product quality," Keeffe said of Saikawa's new position.
Among other changes:
CFO Joe Peter will take on additional duties for managing Nissan's affiliate companies and its marine division.
Anthony Laydon will be appointed corporate vice president of global supply chain management.
Simon Sproule, currently corporate vice president for global marketing communications, adds additional responsibilities for marketing communications for the Renault-Nissan Alliance.