DETROIT -- Jose Munoz’s latest promotion gave Nissan’s North America chairman the additional job of chief performance officer, giving him responsibility for every market in the world.
But Munoz has assured dealers and executives that the U.S. market’s business still comes first.
“The good news is that my No. 1 priority in my new global role is the U.S.,” Munoz told an audience at the 2017 Automotive News World Congress Tuesday. “That’s where I plan to spend as much time as possible, with the team, with dealers, to understand the market.”
As chief performance officer, Munoz is responsible for the results of markets from China to the Middle East. He also is responsible now for the results of all of Nissan’s brands, including Infiniti and Datsun.
It is a job that requires him to travel the world and understand and help each market.
But Munoz will maintain a heavy U.S.-focused schedule, he said, and continue to live near Nissan’s U.S. headquarters in Nashville. He has assured U.S. retailers that he will continue his normal routine of recent years, including meeting every month with both Nissan and Infiniti’s U.S. dealer advisory boards and participating in their various operating committees.
He said that Nissan faces several significant ramp-ups in 2017, including an expansion of its presence in the full-size truck market with the Titan pickup. Last month, with Titan production expanding to include multiple models, the pickup’s sales quadrupled from Dec. 2015. But it was still just 4,396 sales -- a small fraction of what the Detroit 3 sell each month.
Munoz said that 2017 will see a steady rise in Titan sales, more sales from the freshened Pathfinder and redesigned Armada SUV, and big opportunities for sales of Nissan’s hot compact crossover, the Rogue.
With the help of advertising that tied into the new Star Wars movie Rogue One, the model shot up 53 percent in December to sell more than 40,000 units. This spring, Nissan will introduce a new version of the Rogue -- the Rogue Sport -- to broaden appeal for the crossover.
Nissan North America posted a record sales year for 2016, selling 1,564,423 vehicles, Nissan and Infiniti combined, a 5.4 percent increase from 2015.
But Munoz said his global management activity would not try to simply copy Nissan’s successes in the U.S. market in other world markets.
“I’ve never been able to copy anything anywhere,” said Munoz, who improved U.S. market results after lifting Nissan’s position in Mexico. “Because the market is different, the situations of the brands are different, the product portfolios are different, the dealers are different and the consumers are different. So you need to apply your best analytical skills and get the best team to develop specific solutions.”
Munoz said he will strive to be efficient as he travels the world, and prioritize his input.
“I want to understand the one, two, three key things in each market that are going to make a difference,” he told the audience. “For everything else, I’ve got a great team to support me.”