Nissan has named the head of its Chinese division, Makoto Uchida, as its new boss, heading up a revamped management team as the firm tries to draw a line under recent scandals.
Uchida’s appointment by the Japanese firm’s board of directors was made after the sudden resignation of Hiroto Saikawa, the previous chief executive officer. Saikawa had admitted to being improperly overpaid following revelations that came to light in a report based on an internal investigation into suspected financial misconduct by former chairman Carlos Ghosn and director Greg Kelly.
Uchida was a surprise choice for the CEO role, with the 53-year-old being a relative outsider, having spent much of his recent past working outside of Japan. Having joined Nissan in 2003, Uchida was appointed head of the firm’s Chinese joint venture with Dongfeng in 2018 and also took on responsibility for Nissan’s own China operation.
Uchida will be joined by new chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta, who currently holds the same role for sister firm Mitsubishi. The Indian has also led the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s commercial vehicle division.
Jun Seki, Nissan’s senior vice-president, who was considered one of the favourites for the CEO role, has been named vice-chief operating officer. The three will start in their new roles by the start of 2020.
The three choices suggest that Nissan is hoping that bringing in new management from outside the firm’s Japanese base will enable it to move on from the Ghosn revelations.
Yasushi Kimura, the chair of Nissan’s board of directors, called Uchida “the right leader to drive the business forward", adding that they expected him “to lead the company as one team, immediately focus on the recovery of the business and revitalise the company”.