Nissan hires well-known auto analyst to boost quality

DETROIT Wed Aug 22, 2012 1:09pm EDT

Nissan Motor Corp's logo is pictured as a Nissan vehicle is reflected on glass at the Nissan Gallery in Yokohama, south of Tokyo July 26, 2012. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

Nissan Motor Corp's logo is pictured as a Nissan vehicle is reflected on glass at the Nissan Gallery in Yokohama, south of Tokyo July 26, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Yuriko Nakao

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DETROIT (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co Ltd (7201.T) hired well-known auto analyst and engineer David Champion to play a key role in improving the quality of the Japanese automaker's lineup, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

Previously, Champion was the senior director of Consumer Reports' test center. While at the influential magazine, Champion was often quoted on the safety and quality issues.

At Nissan, which sells the Altima midsize sedan and the Leaf electric car, Champion will handle the newly created role of executive adviser of competitive assessment and quality.

"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," Carla Bailo, Nissan's head of research and development said in a statement.

Champion worked at Nissan before, from 1994 to 1997, as a quality assurance engineer.

Nissan is in the midst of launching five vehicles over 15 months. So far, the automaker has launched its crucial Altima family sedan and Pathfinder sport-utility vehicle. The revamped Altima family competes in an increasingly competitive segment against Toyota Motor Corp's (7203.T) Camry and Honda Motor Co Ltd's (7267.T) Accord.

By the end of 2013, Nissan expects that three-fourths of its U.S. sales will come from those five models. In the U.S. market, Nissan is the No. 7 automaker in sales with an 8 percent market share.

(Reporting By Deepa Seetharaman)

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