David Kershaw, a 30-year Nissan veteran who most recently ran sales and marketing for the Southeast, will become head of the brand's U.S. sales.
Kershaw, 54, has been named Nissan division vice president of sales and regional operations, effective Sept. 1. He replaces Billy Hayes, who is leaving the company at the end of the month for what he described as "personal reasons."
Kershaw referred to himself as a "dealer guy" in an interview with Automotive News on Tuesday.
"I've spent the last year and a half or so out in the field as a vice president for a couple of the biggest regions," Kershaw said. "I gained a lot of experience by being face-to-face with the dealers."
Kershaw is going to need that experience and goodwill with the brand's retailers as the automaker navigates choppy waters.
Nissan is undergoing a slow pivot away from profit-draining fleet sales and incentives in the U.S. in an attempt to shore up brand value and margins. But that's hammering the brand's U.S. sales, which fell 7.8 percent through July.
Kershaw will also have to deal with simmering discontent among Nissan's dealers over the automaker's direction and strategy. A power outage at a Nissan Group data center last week knocked out a key communications system for several days that Nissan and Infiniti dealers across North America rely on for several critical operations, leaving retailers unable to order cars and parts, obtain product rebate information or check on vehicle recalls.