With an annual production of 2.4 million units and a global market share of 6.2%, Nissan is among the leading automakers. But who owns Nissan? Let’s find out.
Nissan is owned by the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. This interlocking business arrangement is based on various share allocations with Renault holding 43.4% of Nissan stock, making it the largest shareholder. At the same time, Nissan owns 15% of Renault while Daimler AG owns 3.32% of Nissan.
As a global car brand, it’s easy to see why Nissan is so popular not just in the United States but also around the world. But even with that, you may be wondering about the origins of this legendary brand. Who owns it? Where is it made? Well, in this article, I’ll be exploring these questions and telling you more about Nissan.
A Brief History of Nissan
In 1911, US-trained engineer, Masijiro Hashimoto founded an automotive company with a catchy name, Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works Company. The company’s first car was produced in 1914 and was called the DAT, which was the first name initials of the company’s three investors. Luckily for the company, the name ‘DAT’ is associated with a “fleeing rabbit” in Japanese, so this was a plus for the company.
In its early stages, the company was synonymous with manufacturing trucks but this changed in 1930 after the company started producing smaller cars that would become the iconic Datsun. It was in the mid-1930s, that the company would adopt the Nissan trademark, which was the abbreviation of the automobile’s holding company “Nihon Sangyo” as used on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Where is Nissan From?
Although its headquarter is in Nishi-ku in Yokohama, Japan, Nissan is a multinational corporation with various production facilities around the world. For example, Nissan has manufacturing facilities in various cities across the United States such as Canton, Mississippi, Decherd, Tennessee, and Smyrna, Tennessee, which is the highest-volume vehicle assembly facility in North America.
The Smyrna facility is widely known for producing various Nissan models including INFINITI QX60, Pathfinder, LEAF, Rogue, Maxima, and Altima. On the other hand, the Canton facility handles the production of Murano, NV Cargo, TITAN, Frontier, and Altima while the Decherd plant handles the production of powertrain components.
The company also has several production facilities around the world including the United Kingdom, Brazil, China, India, Morocco, South Korea, Russia, Taiwan, Mexico, and Australia, among others.
Owners of Nissan
Although Nissan is currently profitable, it went broke in the last century. It was at this point that French car giant Renault came to its rescue through the Renault-Nissan Alliance in 1999. This was after Renault Group bought a stake in Nissan Motor Corporation. Mitsubishi was then included in the Alliance in 2016, making it the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. Today, Renault owns a 43.4% stake in Nissan Motor Corporation.
In an interlocking ownership arrangement, Nissan holds 15% of Renault Group but does not have any voting rights. Again, Daimler AG is the second-biggest shareholder of Nissan with a 3.32% stake while Nissan owns 1.52% of Daimler AG. And even though Nissan is larger and more profitable than Renault, Renault maintains significant control over the operations of Nissan and the alliance in general because it has a significant stake in Nissan, which essentially gives it more seats in the company’s board and voting rights.
Given that the French government is the largest shareholder in Renault, it basically means that the French government has a significant controlling stake in Nissan. Unsurprisingly, this has led to resentment over the terms and policies of the alliance, especially within Nissan and in Japan.
To perhaps cement its control over Nissan and other multinationals, the French government passed the “Florange Law” in 2014. This law gives long-term shareholders more voting power in their companies. This is why Renault increased its stake in Nissan from 36.8% in 1999 to 43.4% in 2017 to give the French government (through Renault and CEO Carlos Ghosn) more control in Nissan.
Conflict Over Control of Nissan
There have been squabbles between the French government led by Emmanuel Macron and the Japanese companies, Nissan and Mitsubishi. This came after Carlos Ghosn, the founding chairman and CEO of the alliance, was arrested in Japan by the Japanese authorities in 2018.
Despite various conflicts over the last few years, each group reaffirmed its commitment to the alliance. The companies also reached an agreement to create an alliance operating board with three CEOs from each company as equal members and a chairman. Today, the chairman of the alliance is Jean-Dominique Senard, who is also Renault’s chairman board of directors.
Nissan’s Global Sales
When Renault took over the control of Nissan in 1999, the board of directors at Nissan were old men who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s. They made money when Japan’s car industry was booming in that era. However, they lagged behind in terms of innovativeness and this led to the turmoil that the company faced in the 1980s and 1990s. Sales were at an all-time low as these directors had no idea how a global car company should be operated, let alone what western buyers wanted.
On the contrary, Renault and Ghosn knew exactly how to run a global car brand and what the western buyers wanted. They came up with innovative ideas and started creating Nissan car models that not only looked attractive but also modern. As a result, Nissan’s fortunes turned around and the company could now manufacture some of the best and very affordable cars.
There were, however, some issues on Renault’s part. For years, Renault lagged behind in terms of quality and reliability. Instead, they concentrated more on the looks and the feel of the car. This philosophy was transferred to Nissan. As such, Nissan remains one of the cheapest and best-looking cars in the market but among the least reliable.
Despite all these, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance remains the fourth-largest automaker in the world. The alliance controls about 10 different car brands in the world including Dacia, Lada, Infiniti, Venucia, Renault-Samsung, and Datsun. To put it into perspective, the alliance sells 1 in 9 cars worldwide.
Nissan’s Latest Lineup
Some of the latest models that Nissan plans to release include the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder, 2022 Nissan Murano, and the 2022 Nissan Frontier. These models will be designed with some of the latest technologies in the world, so you should check them out. Nissan is also one of the leading sellers of all-electric vehicles, which should be good news if you’re looking to own an affordable electric vehicle.
The Nissan Leaf is the best-selling plug-in electric car. This is an indication that the current owners of Nissan are doing something right and it won’t be long before Nissan becomes one of the leading car brands in the world, especially if the reliability issues are sorted out.
About THE AUTHOR
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding