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In a roundtable interview today at the North American International Auto Show, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn announced a $6,400 price drop for the base-model 2013 Nissan Leaf. Last year's base model was $35,200, while the new base-level 2013 Leaf S starts at $28,800. Ghosn says the new prices make the Leaf the least expensive five-seater electric for sale in the US.
Some of the lower cost is due to a difference in content from last year's low-end model to this year's. But a sizable portion can be chalked up to the Leaf's production moving from Japan to Tennessee. The 2013 Leaf is not only assembled in the US now, but its lithium-ion batteries and the car's electric motors are manufactured in the same southern state.
The Leaf SV will be priced from $31,820 for 2013 compared to $35,200 last year. The high-end Leaf SL now starts at $34,840, down from the 2012 model's $37,250. These models also have differences in content. One big one is a new 6.6-kWh charger that reduces charging times pretty dramatically.
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn is on track to be the highest-paid executive in Japan for the fourth time in five years. Ghosn's salary and bonuses last year rang the register to the tune of $9.8 million (995 million yen), and when stock dividends are added to the equation, the exec's total pay crested a billion yen. That represents a 0.7-percent increase over his pay from the previous year. Ghosn earned an additional $3.1 million as CEO of Renault.
According to Bloomberg, Ghosn's compensation was announced at a shareholder's meeting in Japan, prompting an explanation from the CEO. "I understand the sensitivity of the issue," Ghosn said. "Being in Japan should not be a handicap to attract talent. We need the best minds, we need the best talents."
Few would argue with that assessment, we'd guess, but it doesn't answer the question of whether Ghosn is the most talented CEO in Japan. Akio Toyoda, head of Toyota in Japan, earned 230 yen (though, as a large shareholder in Toyota, Toyoda's dividend payments bring him closer to Ghosn) in compensation while steering his automaker to a profit that was five times higher than Nissan's. Honda President Takanobu Ito was paid the comparatively small sum of 150 million yen last year.
José Muñoz, a Nissan and Infiniti sales and marketing vice president, will replace Colin Dodge as Nissan's new North America chief, come Jan. 1, as part of a wide-ranging management shuffle, Automotive News reports. Dodge will remain on Nissan's board, be assigned to special projects and report directly to CEO Carlos Ghosn.
Nissan is working on reorganizing its global operations into six regions, each with a new chief: North America (Muñoz' territory), Latin America, Japan-Southeast Asia, China, Europe and Africa-India-Middle East. Currently Nissan divides the globe into three regions, the Americas, Europe-Africa-India-Middle East and Asia-Pacific.
Nissan also lowered its sales forecast from 5.3-million vehicles to 5.2 million for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2014. Last year, the company sold 4.914 million in the same period. In May, after Nissan's market share had fallen to 7.7 percent, Ghosn said he wants to double sales in the US by 2017 and increase its market share in the country to 10 percent.