What Carlos Ghosn’s Apparent Demise Could Mean for the Auto Industry

Image courtesy of Nissan
What Carlos Ghosn's Apparent Demise Could Mean for the Auto Industry
Image courtesy of Nissan

For years, Carlos Ghosn has ruled both Renault and Nissan with an iron hand, closing or contracting factories when they were over-producing vehicles for both companies, attempting to put Nissan in particular on a more fiscally responsible road to profitability in all of its worldwide ventures.

Always one to give statements with authority and to quell any dissent from within, Ghosn has been both manufacturers’ savior and, from time to time, their sentence. Gruff, demanding and also cordial when he wants to be, Ghosn has had it all in the automobile universe.

Until the last few days, all the talk about Carlos Ghosn has been about product, profitability and the manner in which the former has achieved the latter. Ghosn has managed to turn around Nissan, which was flailing at the close of the last century, through his use of power. The man’s improvements to the Japanese company can’t be understated.

On Monday, everything changed with his arrest in Japan. Current chairman and past CEO of Nissan, chairman and CEO of Renault and chairman of Mitsubishi, which his team acquired in 2016, Carlos Ghosn has reigned over a multi-cultural automotive pantheon. All of which needed help that the Brazilian-born French citizen was able to provide.

Nissan announced on Monday that their chairman had been arrested in Tokyo, along with another board member. The charges are alleged financial misconduct and “numerous other significant acts of misconduct” within the Japanese company. A board meeting has been called for Thursday in Japan, although the specifics of misconduct have not been laid out. Blandly, Nissan cites misstatements of his compensation over several years and “personal use of company assets.”

In some cases, Ghosn has received domiciles instead of funds for his work with Nissan (the Mitsubishi alliance is too new to fit into this saga). Understatement of his Nissan compensation is alleged in the reports, for the five-year period from 2011 through 2015.

Once the Nissan board has met in two days and discussed the issue, it’s highly likely more information will be publicly available. It’s widely expected the country of France, which controls most of Renault’s worth, will remove him once Nissan’s assertions are made public. It’s also not known whether the Renault Formula 1 team or WEC Nissan-powered LMP2 racecar production and competition will be affected by the expected management change.

About Anne Proffit 223 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.

2 Comments on What Carlos Ghosn’s Apparent Demise Could Mean for the Auto Industry

  1. I knew I heard of this guy locally in the auto industry we enjoy here in South Carolina. And here it is: After turning around Michelin’s South American operations, Ghosn was appointed president and COO of Michelin North America in 1989, and moved to Greenville, South Carolina, with his family. He was promoted to CEO of Michelin North America in 1990. He presided over the restructuring of the company after its acquisition of the Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Company.

    In 1996, the ailing French auto manufacturer Renault recruited Ghosn as executive vice president in charge of purchasing, advanced research, engineering and development, powertrain operations, and manufacturing; and he was also in charge of Renault’s South American division, located in the Mercosur. Ghosn’s radical restructuring of Renault successfully returned the company to profitability in 1997.
    This GUY was a super star in the auto industry, I wonder what really happened?!

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