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Does Nissan Listen?

February 07, 1993

Patrick Boyle's article "The Juggernaut Stalls" (Jan. 10) on the Japanese auto industry's current problems in general and Nissan's in particular brought to mind my own experiences at that unfortunate company a number of years back. Nissan had run an ad for entry-level slots for the "auto enthusiast."

I sent in a resume, got an interview, sat across from this guy in personnel and proceeded to talk about cars I'd fixed, cars I'd driven and the general auto-enthusiast, "gearhead" topics that car people do carry on about. Getting deadpan looks and no response, I finally asked him: "Well, do you like cars?" When he said no, I forgot that I was in an interview and blurted out: "Well, then why are you even working here?"

In job hunting it's a given that personnel people screen out the applicants they don't like and allow through those they do--people who remind them of themselves. It's a safe bet that the ones who got hired then were the ones for whom a car might as well be a toaster. Such people are now in mid-level management, trying to keep their jobs by doing the safe thing.

Nissan remains a company populated by decision makers who don't care about cars. So long as that's so, it will be condemned to losing its market share with a generic, vanilla, me-too, cookie-cutter product line.

VIC BENSTEAD

Palos Verdes Estates

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