This news has been out for over a week now, but we’ve not had the opportunity to write about it until now. Nissan announced the hiring of David Champion, former Consumer Reports Auto Test Center Senior Director, as their executive adviser for competitive assessment and quality. Mr. Champion will be based at the Arizona Test Center (likely overseeing some extensive LEAF battery testing as his first duties).
Mr. Champion will not be coming on board until September 10th, so we don’t expect to hear anything big from Nissan regarding the battery issue until sometime well after that date. That is sure to not go over well with those already impacted and has already likely stirred up much discussion in the blogosphere. We think that this appointment is a good move on Nissan’s part.
According to Carla Bailo, senior vice president of research and development “David Champion’s unique industry background will help ensure that the customer’s voice is evident in every product we engineer,” said Ms. Bailo. “His experience in developing robust testing methods will help Nissan keep pace with the increasing complexity of our products and stay focused on continually improving our customer satisfaction ratings.” Without coming right out and saying that they hired him to help them solve the LEAF problem, that’s as close a statement as you’ll ever hear from the auto industry to say the same thing.
In our view, Mr. Champion is as near perfect a person for the job as they could find. Most recently he served as Consumer Reports Auto Test Center Senior Director. Prior to that he worked with Nissan as a quality assurance engineer from 1994 to 1997. While changes have taken place in the brand since that time, having familiarity with Nissan should help in this transition. Mr. Champion also worked with Land Rover establishing test facilities in the United States and Canada. This testing background should serve him well combined with his degrees in mechanical engineering and metal and material science. We are sure that he’ll be drawing on all of that knowledge in the coming months.