By on January 28, 2020

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]

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