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Ian Morgan
Ian Morgan

Shift: The Lessons Learned from Nissan's Remarkable Recovery


Shift Inside Nissan's Historic Revival 11




Nissan is one of the world's leading automakers, with a history that spans over eight decades. But how did it manage to survive and thrive in the face of fierce competition, changing consumer preferences, and global crises? The answer lies in its bold and innovative transformation plan, known as Shift.




Shift Inside Nissans Historic Revival 11



Shift is not just a slogan or a strategy. It is a mindset and a culture that drives Nissan to challenge the status quo, embrace change, and pursue excellence. In this article, we will explore how Shift started, what challenges it faced, what strategies it implemented, what results it achieved, what legacy it left, and what future it envisions.


The Origins of Shift




The story of Shift begins in 1999, when Nissan was on the verge of bankruptcy. The company had accumulated over $20 billion in debt, lost market share in key regions, and suffered from low quality and profitability. It needed a radical change to survive.


That change came in the form of Carlos Ghosn, a Brazilian-born French-Lebanese executive who was sent by Renault, Nissan's new strategic partner, to lead the turnaround. Ghosn was known for his ruthless cost-cutting and restructuring skills, as well as his multicultural background and charisma.


Ghosn wasted no time in diagnosing the problems of Nissan and proposing solutions. He announced a three-year revival plan that aimed to reduce debt by 70%, cut costs by 20%, close five plants, eliminate 21,000 jobs, reduce suppliers by 50%, increase operating margin from 1.4% to 4.5%, and launch 22 new models.


He also introduced a new management style that broke with the traditional Japanese hierarchy and consensus. He empowered cross-functional teams to make decisions quickly and efficiently. He set clear goals and accountability for each function. He communicated openly and transparently with all stakeholders. He fostered a culture of performance and meritocracy.


The Challenges of Shift




Ghosn's plan was met with skepticism and resistance from many quarters. Some doubted that he could achieve such ambitious targets in such a short time. Some feared that he would destroy the identity and values of Nissan. Some resented his foreign and authoritarian approach.


Ghosn had to overcome not only the financial and operational challenges, but also the cultural and psychological ones. He had to convince the employees, the suppliers, the dealers, the customers, and the public that Nissan could change and succeed. He had to inspire trust and confidence in his vision and leadership.


He also had to deal with the external factors that affected Nissan's performance, such as the fluctuating exchange rates, the rising oil prices, the changing regulations, and the evolving consumer preferences. He had to adapt to the different market conditions and customer needs in each region, such as Japan, North America, Europe, China, and India.


The Strategies of Shift




Ghosn's plan was not only about cutting costs and increasing efficiency. It was also about creating value and enhancing quality. He realized that Nissan needed to differentiate itself from its competitors by offering innovative and attractive products that appealed to the customers.


He invested heavily in research and development, design, engineering, and marketing. He launched new models that showcased Nissan's strengths in technology, performance, and style. He revitalized existing models that had lost their appeal or relevance. He expanded into new segments and markets that offered growth potential.


Some of the examples of Nissan's product innovation during the Shift era are: - The X-Trail, a compact SUV that combined off-road capability with urban comfort - The Murano, a midsize crossover that introduced a new concept of premium SUV - The 350Z, a sports car that revived the legendary Z series - The Titan, a full-size pickup truck that challenged the dominance of American rivals - The Qashqai, a compact crossover that created a new category of urban SUV - The GT-R, a supercar that broke records and won awards for its performance and technology - The LEAF, an electric vehicle that pioneered the mass-market adoption of zero-emission mobility


The Results of Shift




The results of Shift were impressive and undeniable. Nissan achieved its revival plan ahead of schedule and exceeded its targets. It reduced its debt from $20 billion to $4 billion, increased its operating margin from 1.4% to 9.4%, launched 28 new models, improved its quality and customer satisfaction ratings, and regained its reputation and image.


Nissan also achieved growth and profitability in all regions. It increased its global market share from 4.9% to 6.2%, its revenue from $50 billion to $90 billion, and its net income from $2 billion to $7 billion. It became one of the most profitable automakers in the world.


Nissan also strengthened its alliance with Renault, which proved to be a key factor in its success. The two companies shared platforms, components, technologies, and best practices. They leveraged their complementary assets and capabilities to create synergies and economies of scale. They also expanded their partnership to include other automakers, such as Mitsubishi, Daimler, and AvtoVAZ.


The Legacy of Shift




Shift was not only a turnaround plan for Nissan. It was also a transformational movement for the automotive industry and beyond. It demonstrated that change is possible and necessary in any situation. It showed that innovation and excellence can be achieved with courage and determination. It inspired other companies to follow suit and adopt similar principles and practices.


Shift also left a lasting impact on Nissan's culture and identity. It instilled a sense of pride and confidence in its employees. It fostered a spirit of collaboration and diversity among its teams. It created a vision and a mission for its future.


The Future of Shift




Shift is not over yet. It is an ongoing process that continues to evolve and adapt to the changing environment and challenges. Nissan is still committed to pursuing its transformation in the post-Ghosn era, under the leadership of Makoto Uchida, who took over as CEO in 2019.


Nissan has announced two new strategic plans that will guide its direction for the next decade: Vision 2022 and Alliance 2022.


The Vision 2022 Plan




The Vision 2022 plan is Nissan's own roadmap for achieving sustainable growth and profitability by 2022. It has three main objectives: - To increase its global market share from 6% to 8% - To increase its revenue from $90 billion to $130 billion - To increase its electrification from 5% to 40% of its sales


To achieve these objectives, Nissan will focus on four key areas: - Product: Nissan will launch 12 new models by 2022, including electric vehicles, hybrids, and e-POWER vehicles. It will also enhance its core models, such as the Rogue, the Altima, and the Sentra. It will focus on its key markets, such as China, the US, Japan, and Europe. It will also explore new opportunities in emerging markets, such as India, Brazil, and Indonesia. - Technology: Nissan will invest in developing and deploying cutting-edge technologies that will improve its products and services. It will leverage its expertise in electrification, autonomous driving, connectivity, and artificial intelligence. It will also collaborate with other companies and institutions to accelerate innovation and create value. - Quality: Nissan will improve its quality and customer satisfaction by implementing rigorous standards and processes. It will enhance its manufacturing efficiency and reliability. It will also strengthen its after-sales service and support. It will also listen to customer feedback and respond to their needs and expectations. - Culture: Nissan will foster a culture of performance and accountability that will drive its results and growth. It will empower its employees to take ownership and responsibility for their actions. It will also promote a culture of diversity and inclusion that will reflect its global presence and values.


The Alliance 2022 Plan




The Alliance 2022 plan is a joint roadmap for achieving synergies and value creation among Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi, the three members of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. It has four main objectives: - To increase the annual synergies from $5 billion to $10 billion by 2022 - To increase the combined sales from 10 million to 14 million units by 2022 - To increase the electrification from 10% to 30% of the sales by 2022 - To increase the autonomous driving from 15% to 70% of the sales by 2022


To achieve these objectives, the Alliance will focus on four key areas: - Platform: The Alliance will share common platforms and architectures for nine segments of vehicles, covering 75% of their total sales. This will reduce costs, increase efficiency, and improve quality. - Powertrain: The Alliance will share common powertrains and components for electric vehicles, hybrids, e-POWER vehicles, gasoline engines, diesel engines, and transmissions. This will reduce emissions, increase performance, and improve customer satisfaction. - Technology: The Alliance will share common technologies and services for autonomous driving, connectivity, mobility, and artificial intelligence. This will enhance safety, convenience, and intelligence. - Business: The Alliance will share common business functions and operations for purchasing, engineering, manufacturing, logistics, human resources, finance, and legal. This will increase productivity, profitability, and competitiveness.


The ARIYA Concept




One of the most exciting examples of Nissan's product innovation and technology leadership is the ARIYA Concept. The ARIYA Concept is a new electric crossover vehicle that showcases Nissan's latest technology and design. It was unveiled at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show and is expected to go into production in 2021.


The ARIYA Concept is more than just a car. It is a smart device that connects with the driver, the passengers, and the environment. It is a mobile space that offers comfort, convenience, and entertainment. It is a personal assistant that supports the driver's needs and preferences.


The Features of ARIYA




The ARIYA Concept has many features that make it stand out from other vehicles. Some of them are: - A spacious interior that offers a lounge-like atmosphere with a flat floor, a minimalist dashboard, a sliding center console, a fold-out tray table, ambient lighting, and premium materials. - A dual-motor system that delivers high performance with all-wheel drive capability. The system can adjust the torque distribution between the front and rear wheels according to the driving conditions and preferences. - A ProPILOT 2.0 driver assistance system that enables hands-off driving on highways. The system can navigate lane changes, overtaking maneuvers, exits, and junctions with the help of a high-definition map data and a 360-degree sensing system. - A smart connectivity system that integrates with various devices and services. The system can recognize the driver's face and voice, adjust the settings according to the driver's profile, display relevant information on a dual-screen display, offer navigation and entertainment options through voice commands or gestures.


The Benefits of ARIYA




The ARIYA Concept offers many benefits that enhance the driving experience. Some of them are: - A comfortable driving experience that reduces stress and fatigue. The ARIYA Concept offers a smooth and quiet ride, a spacious and relaxing cabin, and a supportive and adaptive seat. - A powerful driving experience that increases excitement and fun. The ARIYA Concept offers a quick and responsive acceleration, a stable and agile handling, and a dynamic and sporty mode. - An intelligent driving experience that improves safety and convenience. The ARIYA Concept offers a hands-off driving option, a smart connectivity option, and a personalized assistance option.


The Challenges Ahead




Despite its achievements and ambitions, Nissan still faces many challenges ahead that could affect its performance and growth. Some of them are: - Competition: Nissan faces intense competition from other automakers, both traditional and new, that offer similar or superior products and services. Nissan has to constantly innovate and differentiate itself to maintain its competitive edge and customer loyalty. - Regulation: Nissan faces strict regulation from various governments and authorities that impose standards and rules on emissions, safety, fuel economy, and data privacy. Nissan has to comply with these regulations and adapt to the changing requirements and expectations. - Uncertainty: Nissan faces uncertainty from various factors that could disrupt its operations and plans. These factors include the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ghosn scandal, the Brexit outcome, the US-China trade war, the natural disasters, and the consumer behavior.


The COVID-19 Pandemic




The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most significant challenges that Nissan has faced in recent times. The pandemic has caused a global health crisis that has affected millions of people and claimed thousands of lives. It has also caused a global economic crisis that has affected billions of people and businesses.


The pandemic has impacted Nissan in various ways, such as: - Reduced demand: The pandemic has reduced the demand for vehicles as people stay at home, avoid travel, and save money. Nissan has seen a sharp decline in its sales in all regions, especially in China, the US, and Europe. - Disrupted supply: The pandemic has disrupted the supply chain of vehicles as factories shut down, workers stay away, and borders close. Nissan has faced difficulties in sourcing parts, producing vehicles, and delivering orders. - Increased costs: The pandemic has increased the costs of vehicles as materials become scarce, prices rise, and tariffs apply. Nissan has faced challenges in maintaining its profitability and cash flow.


Nissan has taken various measures to cope with the pandemic, such as: - Adjusting production: Nissan has adjusted its production capacity according to the market demand and supply availability. It has suspended or reduced its operations in some plants, while resuming or increasing its operations in others. - Supporting customers: Nissan has supported its customers by offering flexible financing options, deferred payments, extended warranties, online sales channels, and contactless delivery services. - Protecting employees: Nissan has protected its employees by implementing health and safety protocols, providing personal protective equipment, offering remote work options, and providing financial assistance.


The Ghosn Scandal




The Ghosn scandal is another major challenge that Nissan has faced in recent times. The scandal involves Carlos Ghosn, the former chairman of Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi, who was arrested in Japan in 2018 on charges of financial misconduct. He was accused of underreporting his income, misusing company funds, and transferring personal losses to Nissan.


The scandal has impacted Nissan in various ways, such as: - Damaged reputation: The scandal has damaged Nissan's reputation as a trustworthy and ethical company. It has also tarnished its image as a leader in innovation and excellence. - Weakened alliance: The scandal has weakened the alliance between Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi. It has exposed the tensions and conflicts among the partners over governance, control, and strategy. - Lost opportunity: The scandal has lost the opportunity for Nissan to benefit from Ghosn's vision and leadership. It has also distracted Nissan from focusing on its core business and future plans.


Nissan has taken various measures to cope with the scandal, such as: - Reforming governance: Nissan has reformed its governance structure by appointing new directors, creating new committees, strengthening internal controls, and enhancing transparency. - Restoring trust: Nissan has restored trust with its stakeholders by cooperating with the authorities, apologizing for the misconducts, and taking corrective actions. It has also communicated openly and honestly with its employees, customers, suppliers, dealers, and shareholders. - Renewing leadership: Nissan has renewed its leadership by appointing a new CEO, a new COO, and a new management team. It has also redefined its vision, mission, and values.


Conclusion




Nissan is a remarkable company that has undergone a remarkable transformation. From the brink of bankruptcy to the peak of profitability, from the follower of trends to the leader of innovation, from the victim of crises to the survivor of challenges, Nissan has shown that it can shift and succeed in any situation.


Shift is not just a word or a plan. It is a philosophy and a culture that defines Nissan's identity and destiny. It is a way of thinking and acting that drives Nissan to challenge itself, embrace change, and pursue excellence. It is a spirit of passion and courage that inspires Nissan to create value and make a difference.


If you are interested in learning more about Nissan's Shift story, or if you want to experience Nissan's Shift products and services, please visit our website or contact us. We would love to hear from you and share our Shift vision with you.


Thank you for reading this article. We hope you enjoyed it and found it informative and engaging. Please feel free to share your feedback and comments with us. We appreciate your support and interest.


FAQs




Here are some frequently asked questions about Nissan's Shift story:


  • What is Shift?



Shift is Nissan's transformation plan that started in 1999 and continues to this day. It aims to revive Nissan's performance and growth by implementing innovative and effective strategies in product, technology, quality, and culture.


  • Who is Carlos Ghosn?



Carlos Ghosn is a former executive who led Nissan's turnaround from 1999 to 2018. He was also the chairman of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. He was arrested in Japan in 2018 on charges of financial misconduct and escaped to Lebanon in 2019.


  • What is ARIYA?



ARIYA is a new electric crossover vehicle that showcases Nissan's latest technology and design. It was unveiled at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show and is expected to go into production in 2021.


  • What is Vision 2022?



Vision 2022 is Nissan's own roadmap for achieving sustainable growth and profitability by 2022. It has three main objectives: to increase its global market share from 6% to 8%, to increase its revenue from $90 billion to $130 billion, and to increase its electrification from 5% to 40% of its sales.


  • What is Alliance 2022?



Alliance 2022 is a joint roadmap for achieving synergies and value creation among Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi, the three members of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. It has four main objectives: to increase the annual synergies from $5 billion to $10 billion by 2022, to increase the combined sales from 10 million to 14 million units by 2022, to increase the electrification from 10% to 30% of the sales by 2022, and to increase the autonomous driving from 15% to 70% of the sales by 2022.


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