Saikawa sees big potential for Mitsubishi.
Recently minted Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa outlined his priorities for the brand Monday, naming the expansion of electrification and leveraging the potential of the company's new subsidiary, Mitsubishi, as two of his key goals.
In an interview with Automotive news, Saikawa said that he plans to fully exploit the Nissan-Mitsubishi partnership, with the goal of leveraging the Mitsubishi brand the way Fuji Heavy Industries has leveraged Subaru.
But first, he wants to launch a second-generation electric vehicle assault, led by the new Leaf, which is expected to debut later this year. From there, Saikawa expects Nissan's march toward 300-mile EV range to be completed before 2020.
While that develops, Saikawa wants to focus on expanding Mitsubishi's role in delivering volume for the Alliance. He believes Mitsubishi could grow from one million units a year to 1.5-2 million, and he believes "regain[ing] ground in the U.S." is key to accomplishing that.
"I believe they have a very strong future in the U.S. market," he said. Nissan purchased a majority stake in Mitsubishi following the smaller automaker's 2016 emissions scandal.
Saikawa took the reins of Nissan on April 1. His ascension marks the first time Nissan has had a Japanese CEO in 15 years. His predecessor, Carlos Ghosn, remains CEO of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.