Carlos Ghosn through the years
Over the past few weeks Nissan's media machine has been rolling out a series of "best hits" called "What drives Carlos Ghosn" (one can check out the 7 part piece here), so it was apparent the end of the popular CEO's tenure at Nissan was coming to a close.
It was evident even at the outset of Nissan's current 5-year plan that kicked off in 2012, that it would be Carlos Ghosn's last serving as CEO
And with Nissan's latest 5-year plan, dubbed "Power 88" winding down on March 31st, it has been announced that Hiroto Saikawa will be taking over.
With that said, Ghosn is far from being dis-associated from the Nissan-Renault Alliance, or Nissan's latest acquisition - Mitsubishi Motors. He continues on as Chairman of Nissan, CEO of Renault, and Chairman of Mitusbishi...not to mention the CEO/Chairman of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance.
So, he basically still is supreme overlord of the trio.
Carlos Ghosn said of the transition:
"I am confident that the management team I have developed at Nissan over the past 18 years has the talent and experience to meet the company's operational and strategic goals. Having recently taken on new responsibilities at Mitsubishi Motors, and taking into consideration the upcoming Nissan general shareholders meeting, I have decided that the time is right for Hiroto Saikawa to succeed me as Nissan's CEO."
As an interesting note to the end of the "Power 88" and Ghosn's term as CEO, it was projected way-back-when that the next generation LEAF would be arriving at the start of the next 5-year plan (which kicks off April 1st), and wouldn't you know it...the "new" LEAF is expected to debut right around that time in Geneva or New York.
After confirming the upgraded LEAF will be unveiled soon, the only question now seems to be: "Will the old CEO show it off in Geneva next week, or will it be the "new" man...40-year Nissan vet, and next CEO Hiroto Saikawa in April in New York?"
Over his time as CEo, Ghosn has lead Nissan from the financial abyss in the late 90s (known as "Le Cost Cutter") to the power-entity it is today, and as such, Hiroto Saikawa is definitely taking over a thoroughbred.
A rather young looking Carlos Ghosn working at Michelin in Brazil at 26
With that said, Mr. Saikawa should have little difficulty following through on what Ghosn has done in the past, having been with the company since 1977 (when does this fellow plan on retiring anyway?), and also having recently served as Nissan's Chief Competitive Officer (April 2013 through October 2016) until being named co-CEO thereafter.
Truthfully, with Saikawa at the wheel, it almost seems like Ghosn will still be running the show at Nissan, but he has just ran out of man-hours during the day to hold the title.
In fact, Ghosn pretty said so on his exit April 1st, 2017:
"As Nissan's Chairman, I will continue to supervise and guide the company, both independently and within the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.
This planned change will also allow me to devote more time and energy to managing the strategic and operational evolution and expansion of the Alliance and ensuring that all its members benefit from the competitive advantages that its scale will deliver.
I am committed to supporting the Alliance as it evolves and expands, and will continue to serve each member of the Alliance wherever and whenever necessary."
Mr. Saikawa added a comment of his own on taking over as full-time Nissan CEO:
"I would like to thank Mr. Ghosn and the Nissan board for entrusting me with this new responsibility. Under Mr. Ghosn's chairmanship and with the support of the excellent leadership team that has been built at Nissan, my focus will be delivering our company's continued performance and development and on continuing Nissan's contribution to the success of the Alliance."
Hat tip to Ken B!