DETROIT -- With sales records stacking up for Nissan in the U.S., Nissan North America Chairman Jose Munoz wants to keep his eyes on local affairs -- even though he now has key global duties.
In November, Munoz was additionally named Nissan Motor Co.'s chief performance officer, an assignment that puts him in charge of results for every market in the world, as well as Nissan's various businesses, including Infiniti and Datsun.
It's a huge job. But the U.S. is red-hot for the automaker. Last month, Nissan's Rogue compact crossover erupted as the industry's biggest-selling U.S. nameplate, excluding full-size pickups, with 40,477 sales. The brand posted a record year in the U.S., with 1,426,130 sales. Infiniti also posted a record year here, with 138,293 sales, combining for a record year for Nissan North America.
Munoz has assured his U.S. dealers and executives that, even as he spends time overseeing results around the world, the U.S. businesses still come first for him.
"The good news is that my No. 1 priority in my new global role is the U.S.," Munoz told an audience last week at the Automotive News World Congress. "That's where I plan to spend as much time as possible, with the team, with dealers, to understand the market."
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 routine of recent years, including meeting monthly with Nissan's and Infiniti's U.S. dealer advisory boards and participating in their operating committees.
He said 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 more than quadrupled from December 2015.
Still, sales totaled just 4,396 -- a small fraction of what the Detroit 3 sell each month.
For 2017, Munoz predicted a steady rise in Titan sales, more sales from the freshened Pathfinder midsize crossover and redesigned Armada large SUV, and big opportunities for sales of Nissan's hot Rogue.
With the help of advertising tied to the new movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, U.S. Rogue sales shot up 53 percent in December. This spring, Nissan will introduce a new version of the Rogue -- the Rogue Sport -- to broaden appeal for the crossover.
Munoz said he will not try to simply copy Nissan's U.S. successes in other 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."