Mitsubishi gets a lot more European

Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.
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Mitsubishi is becoming a lot more European as Chairman Carlos Ghosn continues to fill key positions at the Japanese automaker with trusted executives from Nissan and its budget brand, Datsun.

Starting next month Frenchmen Vincent Cobee and Guillaume Cartier will join British national Trevor Mann on the senior management team at the automaker, which is still reeling from its mileage manipulation scandal.

Cartier, 48, gets promoted to a global sales and marketing job at Mitsubishi after leading Nissan Europe to record sales and its best-ever market share during his three and a half years in the job. He is a high-energy guy who loves a challenge and who has had huge success in an area where Mitsubishi is also strong: SUVs.

Cobee, 48, will have a top role in Mitsubishi’s product strategy department. He comes to the company after leading the rebirth of Datsun, whose lineup he cobbled together with a lot of help from the Renault-Nissan alliance. "If I need to borrow or steal existing assets -- plants, transmissions, platforms -- I will,” he told Automotive News Europe sister publication Automotive News in 2015. “If they don't meet my expectations on weight, performance, cost, I will work on them." This shows that he’s all for leveraging the power of an alliance that also includes Alpine, Dacia, Samsung and Infiniti.

After Ghosn, the highest ranking former Nissan executive at Mitsubishi is Mann. He was named chief operating officer right after Nissan took a controlling stake in Mitsubishi last autumn.

Mann, who was previously Nissan’s chief performance officer, is fanatical about efficiency and plant productivity. The 55-year-old executive also has first-hand knowledge of the challenges that Nissan faced as it worked over the last 18 years to build synergies with French alliance partner Renault. He told Automotive News Europe last week at the Geneva auto show that he is determined not to repeat any past mistakes.

“We've got the benefit of understanding what went wrong [while building synergies between Renault and Nissan], why it took so long and how we can do it quicker," Mann said.

It seems very likely the pieces will fit together even faster given that Ghosn has stacked Mitsubishi with executives who, along with being true believers in the benefits of the alliance, are experts in product development, manufacturing and sales.

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