NASHVILLE -- The message from Nissan North America’s weekend management shuffle is that things are back to normal there.
Carlos Tavares’ departure as Nissan’s hands-on, Nashville-based chairman of the Americas will leave the automaker with a management structure that it had before the global economic crisis began in late 2008.
Bill Krueger, a quiet executive who was recruited in 2005 after manufacturing stints with Toyota and General Motors, will step forward next month as the senior North American executive.
With the additional title of vice chairman, Krueger will preside over day-to-day operating issues starting on June 13.
In the tradition of past Nissan manufacturing bosses, Krueger has taken on a wide array of functions since joining the automaker. He is simultaneously senior vice president of manufacturing, purchasing, supply chain management and customer satisfaction.
A Nissan Dodge
Colin Dodge, Nissan’s Japan-based, multitasking executive, will now serve as management committee chairman over the region, but he will travel to North America only for meetings.
Dodge will divide his focus on North America with two other critical tasks at Nissan Motor Co.
He remains chairman of Nissan’s operations in Africa, India, the Middle East and Europe. And he also remains Nissan’s chief recovery officer, a role created to stem the flow of financial losses at Nissan when the world economy collapsed in 2008.
Otherwise, Nissan North America will revert to running with a management team of mostly senior vice president-level executives, with a vice chairman at the helm.
Unlike previous chairmen, Tavares was a highly visible leader since his arrival in Nashville in early 2009.
He opened direct lines of communication with Nissan dealers, inviting them to call him with any complaints or suggestions. Although part of his hemispheric duties involved focusing on market share and product launches in such faraway spots as Chile and Argentina, Tavares gave every impression that he was fully engaged in U.S. market matters, from TV advertising to dealer deliveries of the electric Nissan Leaf.
A native of Portugal who speaks eloquently in English, Tavares also publicly fretted about Nissan’s needs to sharpen its brand image among U.S. consumers. Tavares and Brian Carolin, senior vice president of sales and marketing, have made no secret of prodding both the Nissan and Infiniti brands to improve customer-satisfaction ratings, even as both brands chalked up larger U.S. market shares.
“We deserve a better presence in the market,” Tavares intoned in a recent Automotive News interview.
With the ferocious global economic crisis fading, Nissan North America will now return to a structure that addresses such issues at the operating level, with Japan supplying less day-to-day direction.
However, company insiders say the details for doing that are still being ironed out. Tavares, recently named COO of Renault SA, is scheduled to return from Paris next week to hand off responsibility officially and to help the North American management team talk through some of their new tasks.