TOKYO -- Nissan Motor Co. has shifted duties among top executives to tackle two nagging weak points: electric vehicles and quality.
On the EV front, CEO Carlos Ghosn has consolidated the company's zero emissions business, including the struggling Nissan Leaf EV, under COO Toshiyuki Shiga, 59.
The move reflects efforts to bolster the Leaf's lackluster sales and to better coordinate EV marketing, sales and technology across the company.
Ghosn, 59, also sent Hideaki Watanabe, 46, corporate vice president for zero emissions and often the public face of the program, to Nissan-affiliated supplier Calsonic Kansei Corp., where he will be senior vice president for electronics.
With an eye toward improved quality, Hiroto Saikawa, an executive vice president, was named chief competitive officer, a newly created position. He will oversee global manufacturing, supply chain management, r&d and customer satisfaction.
While adding those duties, Saikawa, 59, continues as head of purchasing and operations in Asia, Oceania and Japan.
"The idea is to achieve significant and sustained improvements in product quality," a Nissan spokesman said of Saikawa's new position.
Quality has long been a target for improvement at Nissan.
In Consumer Reports' latest rankings of the best light vehicles on the market, released last month, the Nissan brand ranked in the middle of the pack. Infiniti, Nissan Motor's luxury brand, was in the upper tier.
But both brands ranked below Japanese rivals Lexus, Subaru, Mazda, Toyota, Acura, Honda and Scion.
The promotion lifts Saikawa, whom some consider a possible successor to Ghosn, closer to the top, with other executive vice presidents reporting to him. Those include r&d chief Mitsuhiko Yamashita, 59, and Hidetoshi Imazu, 63, who heads manufacturing and supply chain management.
Among other management changes, all of which take effect April 1:
- CFO Joseph Peter, 49, will take on more duties for managing Nissan's affiliate companies and its marine division.
- Anthony Laydon, 47, will become corporate vice president of global supply chain management. He is divisional general manager of supply chain management.
- Simon Sproule, 44, corporate vice president for global marketing communications, adds responsibilities for marketing communications for the Renault-Nissan Alliance.