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Nissan Cutting 700 Workers at Mississippi Truck, Van Plant

Layoffs add to woes as Nissan reels from Carlos Ghosn scandal.

Nissan Motor Co. plans to cut as many as 700 workers at one of its U.S. factories, adding slower truck and van sales to the list of woes for a company reeling from a leadership crisis.

The Nissan assembly plant in Canton, Mississippi, will eliminate one shift of Titan and Frontier pickup production, and drop one shift building the NV passenger and cargo vans, according to Lloryn Love-Carter, a Nissan spokeswoman. All direct employees will retain their jobs and only contract workers will be dismissed, she said by phone.

Nissan is approaching the two-month mark since the arrest of its longtime leader Carlos Ghosn, who faces the potential of more jail time in Japan for alleged financial crimes. Last week, Jose Munoz, Nissan’s former chief performance officer and top executive for North America, abruptly resigned.

The cuts at Nissan add to the industry’s miseries worldwide, ranging from overcapacity in the U.S., to economic and political headwinds in Europe and falling sales in China, a key engine of growth. Ford Motor Co. and Jaguar Land Rover are among the carmakers already cutting thousands of jobs.

Ghosn’s arrest and the accusations of financial misconduct against him have also raised doubts about the future of the world’s largest auto-manufacturing alliance, the partnership of Renault SA, Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. that the fallen car titan assembled.

In 2018, Nissan sold a total of 165,635 Frontier and Titan pickups and NV vans in the U.S. While the company also exports Canton-built vehicles to other countries and the plant makes other models, that sum is well shy of the factory’s capacity to build 450,000 cars, trucks and vans annually.

The Titan has been a disappointment relative to targets Ghosn set for the pickup after a 2015 redesign and faces stiff competition from refreshed full-size models from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and General Motors Co. The smaller Frontier also is at risk of losing midsize truck shoppers to Ford Motor Co.’s revived Ranger and Fiat Chrysler’s new Jeep Gladiator.

By Alexandra Semenova

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