Mitsubishi Canada names Tony Laframboise new president

Tony Laframboise is the new head of Mitsubishi Motor Sales of Canada. Photo credit: Mitsubishi
UPDATED: 3/15/17 9:23 am ET -- Adds details

EDITOR’S NOTE: The number of total vehicles Mitsubishi sold in Canada in 2016 was previously overstated. The automaker sold 22,293 units. It has also sold 984 cars in the first two months of 2017.

Canadian-born Tony Laframboise, 62, is the new president of Mitsubishi Motor Sales of Canada, a change that’s part of a bigger executive overhaul at Nissan Motor Corp.

Laframboise will replace Kenichiro Yamamoto, effective April 1. Yamamoto will become division general manager for America and Oceania Division after 3.5 years as head of Mitsubishi Canada.

Laframboise is an original employee of the Mitsubishi Canada, joining the company when it was established in 2002.

“Our business has changed dramatically since our start in Canada some 15 years ago,” Laframboise said in a statement. “Mitsubishi Motors in Canada has transformed into a lean, focused organization that specializes in crossover/SUV vehicles and small cars with a particular emphasis on electric-powered vehicles.”

For example, Mitsubishi said in February that a new compact crossover dubbed the Eclipse Cross, is slated to hit the Canadian and U.S. markets in 2018.

Mitsubishi sold 22,293 units in Canada in 2016, up 4.3 per cent from the year prior, when it sold 21,384, according to the Automotive News Data Center. But, the automaker is off to a slower start in 2017, having sold 984 cars in the first two months of the year, down 24 per cent from the same time period last year. Total Mitsubishi sales to start 2017 are also down 10.3 per cent, with 2,542 total vehicles sold in the first two months, down from 2,835 in 2016.

The automaker said in a statement that it’s Laframboise’s goal to “to grow Mitsubishi Motors’ volume in Canada, but also to strengthen its dealership network.”

The change at Mitsubishi Canada is just one of several made Tuesday by Nissan Motor Corp., the most international and diverse of Japan's automakers. The company is increasing its stamp on new alliance partner Mitsubishi Motor Corp. though a new management shuffle that puts more foreigners and a woman into top executive slots.

Nissan execs joining Mitsubishi

The personnel changes aim to align Mitsubishi's management structure with that of its top shareholder and give it a broader outlook, Mitsubishi CEO Osamu Masuko said in a conference call. Mitsubishi will also bring onboard several Nissan executives.

Mitsubishi is overhauling everything from the board room to the factory floor as part of its integration into the Renault-Nissan alliance. It came into the fold last October when Nissan's completed its US $2.29 billion purchase of a controlling stake in the fellow Japanese carmaker.

The latest personnel changes remakes Mitsubishi's leadership in Nissan's image as a more international company, one that offers more opportunity to women and one that promotes workers on performance rather than Japan's traditional system based blindly on seniority.

"We will make this year the first year for creating a more diverse corporate culture and aim to wean off from the seniority-based system," Masuko said of the changes, effective April 1.

Under the new system, three of the top 27 executives will be non-Japanese, and Mitsubishi will also get its first female vice president, Yasuko Takazawa, in charge of legal affairs.

Before, Mitsubishi had only one non-Japanese executive. Chief Operating Officer Trevor Mann, of the UK, had been dispatched from Nissan to Mitsubishi in October.

Mitsubishi is adding also six more Nissan executives to its roster in the latest change.

They include Vincent Cobee, currently Nissan's corporate vice president in charge of the global Datsun brand. He will join Mitsubishi as the corporate vice president responsible for product strategy. Cobee will be succeeded as head of Datsun by Jose Roman, currently a division vice president for marketing and sales in Latin America.

Also, joining Mitsubishi will be Naoya Fujimoto, a Nissan corporate vice president for product development. Fujimoto will be a corporate vice president for project management.

Guillaume Cartier, Nissan's senior vice president of sales and marketing in Europe, will come to Mitsubishi as corporate vice president in charge of global marketing and sales.

Mitsubishi will also lean on Nissan's purchasing prowess with the addition of Takahide Tsujitani as corporate vice president for alliance procurement. He previously worked on purchasing at Nissan, coordinating joint procurement with alliance partner Renault.

Masuko said Mitsubishi and Nissan are working hard to identify areas of combined cost savings and other efficiencies and hope to announce concrete proposals by year’s end.

Naoto Okamura, Hans Greimel and Greg Layson contributed to this article. 

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