Nissan Consolidates Design Studios, Cuts Jobs

NissanNissan is closing offices, cutting its workforce and consolidating its design studios in North America as it faces a difficult market in the U.S.

The Nashville, Tenn.-based U.S. sales arm of the Japanese automaker saw U.S. sales drop 30% in December and over 10% for the year. Sales of Infiniti vehicles decreased by 34.6% in December and 11.1% for the year. Nissan is restructuring North America sales and marketing operations and integrating the Nissan Design America.

The company will shift from a regional marketing structure in which Nissan has 11 regional sales offices to one where it has 7 regional sales offices and 23 satellite offices in 18 locations.

A company statement said the changes are intended to boost sales and owner retention, and strengthen relationships with dealers and consumers. "We want to ensure our company and our dealer partners are well positioned to weather current economic challenges and capitalize on opportunities that will emerge with an upturn in the global economy," it said. "Closing the regional offices and opening smaller, area satellite offices means that people with dealer-facing roles now are located closer to the dealers with whom they work."



A company spokesperson noted that while Nissan's global design studio is in Atsugi, Japan, "by integrating design operations in one studio [San Diego], it helps ensure that the U.S. studio plays a larger role in global design projects, and at earlier more exploratory/advanced stages of design."

The four offices that the company plans to close include Nissan Mid-Atlantic in Herndon, Va.; Nissan Northwest in Pleasanton, Calif.; Infiniti Central in Aurora, Ill.; and Infiniti South in Atlanta.

Meanwhile, Nissan says it will increase the number of support personnel for each dealer and institute a dedicated electric-vehicle project team.

The company also wants to boost the role of Nissan Design America globally. The design team will relocate from its Farmington Hills, Mich. studio to the company's San Diego studio starting in April.

Nissan invested some $14 million in creating a design studio in Farmington Hills, which opened in 2005 on the grounds of Nissan's Technical Center North America. The rationale, at the time, was that Nissan's designers would be close both to Nissan engineers for North American vehicles, as well as Nissan's Michigan suppliers.

Nissan says that moving the design studio into the San Diego operation brings North American designers closer to global design projects. The company says the Farmington studio will be used for other purposes.

Nissan says the changes will cut 110 positions, which--per the company--will be achieved through a voluntary transition plan.

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