Tom Mignanelli, first American CEO of Nissan, has died at 73

Tom Mignanelli, a former Ford executive who gave Nissan’s U.S. sales company a transfusion of American business culture in the early 1990s, has died. He was 73.

His death occurred June 30, said his wife, Mindy Mignanelli, in an email to Automotive News. In a separate email circulated among former colleagues, she said her husband underwent surgery for a brain tumor on June 5 and never regained consciousness.

Mignanelli was the first American given the CEO title at Nissan Motor Corp. in U.S.A., in 1990, breaking through a decadeslong glass ceiling that had kept Japanese executives in charge.

Nissan’s U.S. sales results do not reflect favorably on Mignanelli’s tenure as CEO. The company stumbled through the recession in the early 1990s and he was forced out in 1993 as it lost U.S. market share to Toyota and Honda.

Still smarting from its controversial marketing decision to change its brand name from Datsun, Nissan saw its U.S. light-vehicle sales melt from 742,188 in 1987, the year it recruited Mignanelli, to 621,603 the year Nissan gave him the CEO title.

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