North American Int’l Auto ShowDETROIT – Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. CEO Carlos Ghosn says the planned move of Nissan’s North American headquarters is not a tactic to reduce company headcount, as some critics and Nissan employees have said.

“Some companies move headquarters because they want to reduce headcount,” Ghosn tells reporters in an interview here at the North American International Auto Show. “ This is not our project.

“What I can tell you is we have the intent to bring as many people to Nashville as we can.”

Ghosn says he is hopeful 70% of Nissan’s Gardena, CA-based staff will decide to make the move to Nashville this year. Nissan employs 1,300 in Gardena.

However, he says, typically when U.S. companies move their headquarters, about half the staff decide to transfer to the new location.

“My people are telling me if we get 50% we’ll be good,” says Ghosn.

“Maybe this is a conservative assessment to make sure they are lowering my expectations before it happens, but frankly I don’t know (how many will go to Nashville).”

Ghosn says Nissan has been organizing trips to Nashville to convince as many employees as possible to make the move.

A Nissan spokeswoman says the auto maker will know by the end of April how many employees plan on leaving California for Nashville. Workers have been asked to give Nissan an answer early in the month.

cschweinsberg@primediabusiness.com