TOKYO - Nissan Motor Co. has hired Isuzu's design chief, Shiro Nakamura, to lead its worldwide design operations.
Nissan knew it might be controversial to bring in an outsider, but there was no one inside the company who was right for the job, said Patrick Pelata, Nissan's executive vice president of product planning and strategy.
'In Nissan, we have lots of creative guys,' said Pelata, one of the former Renault SA executives now leading Nissan's recovery. 'The problem is direction.'
He said Nissan wanted someone who spoke Japanese, knew Jap-anese culture, had worldwide experience and had led several design studios.
Pelata has issued a ban on boring design that has plagued Nissan through the 1990s. He said bringing in an outsider would shake things up with the designers and program chiefs. But Pelata also knew he had to hire a Japanese designer to be able to make the change in Nissan's design culture.
'I can push to change the organization, but only a Japanese can change the design thinking. We cannot have the three studios fighting or competing,' Pelata said, referring to Nissan's design centers in Japan, Germany and the United States.
Those centers will report to Nakamura, including Jerry Hirshberg, president of Design International in San Diego, California.
Nakamura, 49, had most recently been general manager of Isuzu Motors Ltd.'s design center in Fujisawa, outside Tokyo. But much of Nakamura's appeal to Nissan had been his experience in America and Europe.
Before his last Isuzu appointment, Nakamura had simultaneous posts as vice president of planning and design for Isuzu Motors America and vice president of strategic and product planning for American Isuzu Motors. Before that, he spent a term in Isuzu's design center in Brussels.