French Fix: Renault Board Selects Next CEO

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Renault has appointed the former boss of Volkswagen Group’s Seat brand, Luca de Meo, as its new chief executive. Eager to remove former CEO Thierry Bollore and further distance itself from any ties to Carlos Ghosn, the company has been without an official leader since October.

The automaker made an announcement Tuesday, saying that after a selection process led by the Governance and Compensation Committee, the Board of Directors under the chairmanship of Jean-Dominique Senard had settled on de Meo.

Clotilde Delbos, currently serving as interim CEO, will continue to assume her functions until Luca takes office at the beginning of July. Viewed as the most-likely successor since 2019, de Meo was simply waiting out the non-compete clause in his contract with VW. His official hiring still needs approval from Renault shareholders, with the next meeting taking place in April.

Starting his automotive career with Renault in the 1990s, Luca should have a solid understanding of how the French do business. But he’s done time with Toyota Motor Europe, FCA, and Volkswagen Group — working with various marques, including Lexus, Alfa Romeo, Abarth Fiat, VW, Audi, and Seat (often in a marketing or leadership capacity). He also speaks five languages (his native Italian, English, French, German and Spanish).

That experience could come in handy as Renault continues efforts to repair its fractured relationship with Japanese partner Nissan. However, the 52-year-old de Meo also needs to contend with waning demand in practically all markets ⁠— and dwindling margins. Renault lowered its revenue goals after a weak first half of 2019; meanwhile, Nissan predicts at least one more bad year before it can start turning things around financially. The dude definitely has his work cut out for him. At the moment, optimism abounds.

“I am delighted with this new governance, which marks a decisive step for the Group and for the Alliance,” Senard said in a statement. “Luca de Meo is a great strategist and visionary of a rapidly changing automotive world. His expertise but also his passion for cars make him a real asset for the Group. I also thank Clotilde Delbos who provides interim management of the Group in an exceptional manner. She has demonstrated day after day her commitment and determination in the service of Renault. Together, with the support of a renewed and strengthened executive committee, they will form a high-quality, multi-talented team equal to Renault’s ambitions.”

[Image: josefkubes/Shutterstock]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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