Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 14

14

CANADA CONGRESS

* MARCH 2020

Nissan's Milette: We're not renewing rentals
To give dealers 'quality
business' in retail,
volume will suffer

It's not about [showing] a
good number to the media
when we come out [with
sales figures] at the end of
the month. It's [about how
we] can drive throughput for
dealers across the country.

By STEPHANIE WALLCRAFT
TORONTO CORRESPONDENT

TORONTO - NISSAN CANADA
is prepared to absorb a dramatic sales
hit by shifting away from fleet customers to focus on delivering a "quality business" to dealers, company
President Steve Milette said.
Nissan Group sales fell 9.6 per cent
in 2019 compared with 2018, according
to figures compiled by the Automotive
News Data Center in Detroit, against
an overall market that fell 3.6 per cent.
Milette said the loss was a result of
the company's renewed emphasis on
retail sales.
"Internally, we had planned to
be down because we're cutting rental quite drastically. It is a 33-per-cent
decrease on rental business, which is
huge.
"Take [January], for example... we
were up on retail, but we were down
60 per cent on rental. You would have
to have a heck of a good retail month
to overcome the miss on rentals," he
said.
"It's not about [showing] a good
number to the media when we come
out [with sales figures] at the end of
the month. It's [about how we] can
drive throughput for dealers across
the country.
"It's setting up a quality business
for our dealers, and it's setting up a
quality business for us that is sustainable."
Nissan is planning 10 new models
for its North American lineup with-

STEVE MILETTE

President, Nissan Canada

In a question-and-answer session with Automotive News Canada Managing
Editor Grace Macaluso, Nissan Canada's Steve Milette says de-emphasizing
fleet sales is about "setting up a quality business for us that is sustainable."
P H O T O : G I A N C A R L O PA W E L E C

in the next 20 months. Nissan Canada
spokesman Didier Marsaud declined
to elaborate on how many of those
models will be entirely new, redesigned or refreshed midcycle, or electrified. However, he said, the list of 10
includes the overhauled Sentra compact sedan and Titan full-size pickup
but does not include the Versa subcompact sedan, which was recently
added for Canada. The next generation of the Nissan Frontier midsize

pickup, slated to launch for the 2021
model year, is also among the additions.
The automaker also is evaluating
its stair-step sales incentive program
for dealers, Milette said, although the
idea of changing the program has not
met with universal approval.
"We believe as a management that
we need to change, and we will. As
we embarked on the discussion with
our dealer council as to where to go, I

would say I had as much pressure to
not change anything as I did to change
it all.
"I guess it depends where you
sit on the spectrum of performance.
Sometimes, that could play a role. But
we have dealers that would rather we
not change anything."
Critics say the programs are too
aggressive, forcing retailers to offer
deep discounts to chase unrealistic
sales goals that put a strain on profits.
Reviewing stair-steps is key to prioritizing retail sales, Milette said.
"We say we're moving toward quality of sales, that it's all about the customer experience, that we want to be
No. 1 in that field.
"So, we keep on working with the
dealer council. Like I said, we want to
set up a quality business for dealers
and for ourselves, and this is part of
it." - ANC

Education, retraining
lag pace of tech change
Only half of university
graduates are being
prepared for jobs of the
future, so employers
need to be more
aggressive and direct
about what they require
By DANA FLAVELLE

TORONTO CORRESPONDENT

CANADA'S AUTO INDUSTRY HAS
a role in creating the workforce of
the future, whether that's through
retraining or internships or tapping into new labour pools, including
women and indigenous Canadians,
a Royal Bank of Canada executive
told the Automotive News Canada
Congress.
As fast as technology is eliminating traditional jobs such as sales
clerk or bank teller, it's creating new
ones for which Canada's workforce
lacks adequate preparation, said John
Stackhouse, senior vice-president,
Office of the CEO at RBC.
"We keep hearing robots are going

to take away jobs and it's absolutely
painful for the people directly affected. But in the aggregate, technology
creates more jobs."
The challenge is ensuring Canada's
workforce has the required skills to
compete. Stackhouse said that only
51 per cent of college graduates and
even fewer university and high school
graduates are being prepared for the
jobs of the future.
"These are pretty grim statistics.
We've got to do a better job of this.
We've got to get this right."
The good news is that many new
jobs require the same "soft skills" as
the old ones, Stackhouse said. That
includes complex problem solving,
critical thinking and communication.
But displaced workers will require
retraining.
"What are you doing to help your
people develop new skills?" he challenged the Canada Congress audience
of automakers, dealers and suppliers.
"I acknowledge it's costly. We get that.
But we can't afford not to do this. The
labour shortage is so great."
Technology is also opening new
opportunities for underrepresented
groups, such as women, Stackhouse
said, citing the job of auto mechanic

RBC's John Stackhouse challenges the Canadian auto industry
to invest in, or even start, programs that develop the workforce it needs.
"The labour shortage is so great." P H O T O : G I A N C A R L O PA W E L E C

as an example.
"It's currently 98 per cent male, but
it's not the grease-monkey skills from
decades past. It's being able to work
with computers, work with people,
solve problems. I see a tremendous
opportunity."
To get more young people interested in working in the auto industry,
Stackhouse suggested working close-

ly with post-secondary institutions to
introduce students to the field and setting up internships and other learning
experiences.
The payback could be new insights
into your industry, he said.
"There are seven million millennials in Canada who have grown up
completely digital. They understand
your problems differently." - ANC

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Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2

Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - Intro
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 1
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 2
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 3
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 4
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 5
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 6
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 7
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 8
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 9
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 10
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 11
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 12
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 13
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 14
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 15
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 16
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Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 27
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 28
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