Nissan Shifts COO Shiga to Head of Electric Vehicle Division

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 5

2013 Nissan LEAF

2013 Nissan LEAF

Nissan Motors has made a daring decision to move its chief operating officer, Toshiyuki Shiga, to the head of its electric vehicle division starting on April 1.

COO Shiga Moves to Top Electric Vehicle Spot

COO Shiga Moves to Top Electric Vehicle Spot

It’s reported that shifting Shiga is in direct response to lower than expected sales of the Nissan LEAF, but there’s likely to be more news to pour out soon behind this developing story.

Toshiyuki Shiga, is the go to guy when it comes to the direction of the company, and who takes all the tough questions in Japan when it comes to accountability at the end of each quarter.

Of all the execs at Nissan, Mr. Shiga is likely the most passionate about the advancement of electric vehicles, and who can effect the most change at the company (outside of CEO Carlos Ghosn).  We definitely see this as a long term plus for the electric vehicle segment.

Hideaki Watanabe, former corporate vice-president of Nissan’s electric vehicle unit, will assume the role of senior vice-president at supplier Calsonic Kansei.

Chris Keeffe, a Nissan spokesman, only stated this regarding Shiga’s shift to the top spot in the automaker’s electric vehicle unit:

“Chief Operating Officer Shiga is taking direct responsibility of zero emission efforts because the business is Nissan’s top priority which requires global and cross-functional efforts.”

Of course, it’s worth pointing out that the Nissan LEAF, despite missing way-too optimistic targets set by Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, is still the world’s best-selling electric vehicle of all time.

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5 responses to "Nissan Shifts COO Shiga to Head of Electric Vehicle Division"

  1. Schmeltz says:

    Eric, just wondering why this shift was considered as you stated a “daring decision”? Is the Nissan Leaf in trouble because of its missed sales targets? For what that’s worth, I don’t believe a single manufacturer hit their overly-ambitious sales projections, including GM and the Volt. Nissan did one thing right already this year by moving production of the Leaf to America, and offer a lower priced version of the car. The next things they should do, IMHO, is increase the electric range and/or offer a range extender, and offer a more mainstream looking car, like an All Electric Altima.

  2. Eric Loveday says:

    I went with “daring” because Shiga is basically second in command at Nissan and shifting him to head up the electric vehicle unit is basically a demotion, so it’s a bold move to shift him there when sales of the LEAF are already what we’d consider strong.

    If Shiga can’t get Nissan back to its crazily optimistic targets, then he might be forced to leave Nissan.

    It’s a bit unclear right now as to why Nissan made this move. This is a breaking story and we hope to provide more info…background…soon.

    But shifting any COO to a position where he or she only heads a single vehicle division is certainly a bold, daring move.

    1. Schmeltz says:

      Ok thanks Eric. I see what you mean now. I suppose if Nissan gives him the tools he needs to get the sales to climb, than great. But if they expect him to work a sales miracle with just the Leaf and maybe an Infiniti EV sedan in a few years, then things don’t look good. I still think Nissan could make a very successful Altima EV if they priced it right and gave it 150 mile range or more. The Leaf is too controversial looking and too short on range for many people. They already offer the Renault Fluence EV in Europe, so why not do a Nissan version for the U.S.?

  3. evnow says:

    I look at this move as a affirmation of Nissan’s commitment to EVs. Corporations usually put more senior people in charge of a unit if they see it as of strategic importance.

    Putting a more senior person makes it possible to break the mold and get decisions quickly. For eg. he would be able to move towards multiple battery sizes or a REx faster than a lower ranked person.

  4. David Murray says:

    I love my Leaf. But i will agree it isn’t a car for everyone. If Nissan wants to really win the EV revolution they need to build a more normal looking vehicle such as a Rogue or Altima and it needs to have at minimum 100 miles EPA range.

    Then they also need to concentrate on building some PHEVs, which I think they are already working on.