NASHVILLE -- For Nissan North America to claim a 10 percent U.S. market share, it first had to turn itself into a company that was capable of achieving a 10 percent share.
That, says the automaker's chief U.S. sales executive, has been the real point of the audacious six-year goal of lifting its U.S. market share to 10 percent by March 31, 2017 -- an increase of more than three points from the moment the plan was announced in June 2011.
"We had to grow the entire organization to be capable of selling that many cars and trucks," says Christian Meunier, senior vice president for Nissan sales, marketing and operations. "It required changes all through the company, in how we operate, in how we distribute, how our dealers perform and how we manage.
"It made us ask, "How do we get there?' You have to put in place an organization that makes it possible."
For the record, Nissan North America indeed reached a 10.2 percent market share as of Feb. 28, 2017, although market shares ebb and flow from month to month. The industry's March results, due out this week, traditionally come in a spot lower for Nissan. Early April will reveal whether Nissan has precisely hit that bold 2011 target.
It has been a workout.
Like a determined 50-year-old training for a marathon, Nissan has felt the burn. The mission has sometimes harried company managers, discombobulated retailers who recoiled from factory pressure to move the metal, and even provoked scorn from competitors and industry analysts who criticized the push as a sure path to diminished brand value.
Now, regardless of whether Nissan's March results hit the 10 percent mark, the company's U.S. management is putting the exercise into perspective.