BERLIN - Carlos Ghosn said the same principles that he used to lead Renault's successful turnaround will guide him at Nissan Motor Co.
After joining Renault in late 1996, Ghosn put together a recovery plan based on $3.5 billion in cost reductions. In March of this year, a revitalized Renault bought 36.8 percent of financially-troubled Nissan for $5.28 billion.
Ghosn will try to repeat his success as Nissan's new chief operating officer. But he said that the restructuring will be carried out by Nissan people.
'After two months of immersion in Nissan I'm discovering that the solutions are inside the company,' said Ghosn in a speech at the Automotive News Europe Congress. 'People are aware of what has to be done to fix the problems that Nissan is facing. And we know that time is limited for us.'
Ghosn said a detailed turnaround plan will be announced around the time of the Tokyo auto show in October.
'Only the future will tell if all this was only a dream or a winning strategy,' he said. 'I can't predict the future but I have at least one conviction: the opportunity is worth the risk.'
Ghosn spoke just a few days before taking over as Nissan's No. 2 executive.
'We intend to build a unique and original alliance of a French and a Japanese company,' he said. 'While preserving brand identities we'll seek to build a new group culture founded on reciprocal trust.'
Each side can benefit the other, Ghosn said. Nissan is known for engineering and manufacturing prowess. Its Sunderland, England, plant has been consistently rated Europe's most efficient by independent researchers. Renault has been an effective cost-cutter and has introduced successful new product concepts.
'Renault has more to bring to Nissan in purchasing,' he said. 'Nissan has more to bring to Renault in manufacturing. Sunderland is today the rabbit for all Renault plants.'
Ghosn said the first step is to return Nissan to profitability.
'You can't establish a strong partnership if one partner is weaker than the other,' he said.
He said the partners will use jointly developed common platforms and will look for synergies in purchasing, engineering and manufacturing.
Ghosn confirmed that replacements for the entry-level Nissan Micra and Renault Clio, due in 2003-2004, will use the same platform. Nissan may also help sell Renault cars in Japan, likely the Megane and Clio.
But the brands will stay separate. 'Renault is more advanced in the definition of its brand values, which are concept innovation, safety, and attractiveness,' Ghosn said. 'The brand identity of Nissan must be more defined.'
Ghosn said there are no plans to sell Renaults in the USA, with or without a Nissan badge.
'We want to strengthen the Nissan brand in the USA,' he said. 'When Nissan has fulfilled all its potential in the USA, which is by far not the case today, then we will think about other options.'
Speaker: Carlos Ghosn
Title: Chief operating officer, Nissan, former executive vice president of Renault
Theme: The new alliance of Renault and Nissan is founded on trust
Quote: 'Only the future will tell if all this was only a dream or a winning strategy'