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Nissan Australia CEO to leave

Shift: Nissan Australia CEO Bill Peffer is heading home to America after just 18 months at the helm.

Search for new local Nissan boss begins as Bill Peffer takes job with rival in US

27 Sep 2013

NISSAN Australia is looking for a new managing director and CEO after Bill Peffer revealed his intention to leave the company this week.

The American executive has been in the job for 18 months and is now planning to return to the US to a new role with a still-to-be-named competitive automotive brand.

In a brief statement issued today, the company said Mr Peffer’s successor had yet to be appointed and that managing director of Nissan Financial Services Australia, Peter Jones, would act as managing director of Nissan Australia alongside his regular duties until a permanent replacement is named.

A spokesperson told GoAuto that Mr Peffer’s resignation was unexpected and that the company was now likely to conduct an international search for his successor.

Mr Peffer will stay on for a short period to hand over to Mr Jones, who is currently in the US but will return next week. No official departure date has been set.

Mr Peffer has worked for Nissan since 2006 and was previously director of marketing communications and media at Nissan North America before replacing a fellow American, Dan Thompson, at the helm of the Japanese car giant’s Australian subsidiary on April 1 last year.

He also has 13 years’ experience with Ford, primarily with the Blue Oval’s North American sales operations.

Nissan’s sales in Australia have continued to rise under Mr Peffer’s watch, although the brand has not maintained last year’s double-digit growth rate and the company has softened its stance on achieving the number-one importer title – an unrealised goal that Mr Thompson set down for Nissan’s previous financial year.

The company is now looking to redesigned models and new entrants to improve its position.

As GoAuto has reported, these include four models in its all-important SUV/crossover stable – the reborn Pathfinder mid-sizer and new-to-Australia Juke city SUV (both here at the end of October), the recently revealed new-generation X-Trail small SUV (due in the first half of 2014) and a redesigned Dualis small crossover, which a Nissan source has told us will be unveiled at the Tokyo motor show in November ahead of its launch here next year.

The Altima mid-size sedan also arrives before the end of this year.

Nissan’s sales rose 17.4 per cent last year to almost 80,000 units on the back of its three biggest-selling models – the Navara utility (accounting for more than 26,000 sales, up 39 per cent in 4x2 and 18.7 per cent in 4x4), X-Trail (16,000 units, up 33 per cent) and Dualis (13,000 units, up 43 per cent).

This year, however, Nissan’s sales are up just 2.6 per cent to the end of August, with Pulsar chiming in with 10,000 units since launch in January – fewer than expectations but almost singlehandedly ensuring the brand’s sales remain in positive territory.

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