Now we’re a few months past the Carlos Ghosn coup de grâce, it’s fascinating to hear the BS coming from the top management tier, as the Alliance's partners attempt to publicly patch up their differences, and project an air of consensus and co-operation. Don’t believe a word of it - it’s just for the cameras.
Because, given the challenges the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance was already facing due to the forced departure of its ‘spiritual leader’, along comes the COVID19 Pandemic and that’s really thrown the cat among the pigeons.
The world’s biggest automotive alliance is in BIG trouble. I could not help laughing out loud at the statement by the new Nissan CEO Machoto Uchida, that the Alliance was in trouble because of Carlos Ghosn’s ridiculously high sales targets, and his misguided forward planning. Never mind that Ghosn has not been running the joint for the last 18 months!
Now, Carlos ‘Le Cost Cutter’ may be an aggressive operator, but he is very astute and he would have had his finger on the pulse of both industry trends and the Alliance’s potential. I am certain, given the deterioration in market stability, Ghosn would have trimmed the sails, and the sales targets, to a level consistent with conditions.
As far as Nissan is concerned, its troubles began when Hiroto Saikawa took control. He spent most of his time concentrating on getting rid of Ghosn, rather than managing Nissan’s more fundamental problems.
Nissan has way too much manufacturing capacity, way too many employees, way too much in production costs, way too many models, and no plan to cure these ills. This was one of Ghosn’s main targets before he was thrown in jail.
Not only was Carlos conceptualising a merger of Renault and Nissan, but he had big plans for a big slash of Nissan’s excesses – and that was really worrying Saikawa and his cadre of ‘yes’ men. That’s what was behind the urgency of pushing him out.
Renault’s current Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard is simply not up to the job of managing the Alliance and the rather brutal attack on costs that it needs, and delivering the bad news to Nissan. Carlos Ghosn’s appointee as CEO, Thierry Bollore (who got shafted almost immediately after Carlos was put in a cell) was just the guy for the job. However, Saikawa feared Bollore almost as much as he hated Ghosn.
This chart shows the main reason Nissan is pissed. Renault owns 43.4% of Nissan, and Nissan owns a mere 15% of Renault, so under Ghosn's management, Renault called the shots.
Now we hear that Renault will slash almost 15,000 jobs, and that the French Government is going to ‘provide’ Renault with another five billion euros, to 'help it contend with the current situation'. To me, that should read as ‘life support’.
Running a multi-corporate, multi-national and multi-faceted alliance is a big challenge and Ghosn knew exactly what he needed to do, but the effects would have really rattled Renault’s and Nissan's cages.
When Clotilde Delbos was appointed interim Renault CEO recently, she issued the very fatuous comment that in her view, going forward, the Alliance demanded a strong leader! Well, hello!
Thanks to the Carlos coup de grâce, they got rid of the strong leader - now look at the shit they’re in.
Believe me, with the current lot in charge this is going to end in tears. I’m convinced the current Alliance management couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery. Pardon the Aussie vernacular, but that’s the only way to pitch it.