Carlos Ghosn recently told Nissan's shareholders that the alliance of auto companies and brands he has forged — Nissan, Renault, Mitsubishi, Samsung, AvtoVAZ — expects this year to become the world's biggest-volume auto group.
That would be an amazing feat, but if it happens, it might warrant a cautionary observation: Beware of being the king.
Consider what General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen Group have encountered as they hovered at the top of the industry — each of them crashed for one reason or another. There was Toyota's unintended acceleration crisis, GM's bankruptcy and VW's diesel-emissions scandal. You don't get to be king for life, it seems. Witness the fact that all three are about to be passed by Renault-Nissan.
But assuming better luck for Ghosn in the No. 1 spot, his competitors are certain to be asking: "So what? What does it really matter if an automaker is No. 1 or No. 9?"