Nissan's CEO steps aside, but not to retire

February 23, 2017

After nearly two decades at the helm of Nissan, Carlos Ghosn has announced that he will hand over control of the Japanese automaker to an executive who worked his way up the brand's ranks in its home market. 

Ghosn will remain as Nissan's global CEO until April 1, at which time Hiroto Saikawa will take over. However, don't look for Ghosn, one of the world's best-known CEOs, to take up golf in retirement. Instead, Ghosn will remain in charge of the global alliance between Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi. All together, the group is one of the world's biggest carmakers, especially in emerging global markets. 

Saikawa has spent four decades working his way up the ranks at Nissan, where he is currently the automaker's Chief Competitive Officer.

“As Nissan's Chairman, I will continue to supervise and guide the company, both independently and within the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance,” Ghosn said in a statement released to members of the media.

Nissan and French automaker Renault joined forces in early 1999. Last year, Nissan took a controlling stake in flailing Japanese automaker Mitsubishi after that brand's highly publicized fuel economy scandal in its home market. Together, Ghosn aims to grow the allied automakers into one of the world's three largest car brands, a move that would unseat either General Motors, Toyota, or Volkswagen. 

How could this affect consumers in the U.S.? Mitsubishi's future here appears to be a bit brighter, especially with the recent announcement that its Eclipse nameplate will return to our shores—this time on a crossover SUV. Nissan, meanwhile, has grown considerably under Ghosn's leadership and has become increasingly autonomous in the U.S. by developing its own products like the Titan pickups, Altima mid-size sedan, and Rogue crossover

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