Renault Chooses Volkswagen Executive as New C.E.O.


The French carmaker Renault named a former Volkswagen executive as its chief executive on Tuesday, a crucial step as it tries to revive its troubled alliance with the Japanese carmaker Nissan.

The executive, Luca de Meo, 52, recently stepped down as the president of SEAT, a Spanish car brand that has become one of Volkswagen’s best-performing divisions since he took over in 2015.

Mr. de Meo will take office on July 1, Renault said. Until then, Clotilde Delbos, Renault’s chief financial officer, will remain interim chief executive.

“Luca de Meo is a great strategist and visionary of a rapidly changing automotive world,” Jean-Dominique Senard, the Renault chairman, said in a statement.

An affable Italian who has spent most of his career in marketing, Mr. de Meo is likely to be less imperious and more diplomatic than Carlos Ghosn, who was chief executive of Renault before his arrest in Japan in November 2018 on charges of financial impropriety. Mr. Ghosn, who has denied the allegations, fled Japan on Dec. 29 and appeared before reporters in Lebanon on Jan. 8.

Mr. de Meo takes over after a tumultuous year at Renault that included an attempt to merge with Fiat Chrysler. The deal fell apart at the last minute. Fiat Chrysler has since agreed to merge with PSA, the maker of Peugeot and Citroën cars.

Mr. de Meo replaces Thierry Bolloré, who succeeded Mr. Ghosn but was pushed out in October by Mr. Senard. Mr. Bolloré had clashed with top executives at Nissan.

One of his main tasks will be to help repair fissures in Renault’s alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi, which were exposed by Mr. Ghosn’s downfall.

The Japanese have chafed at French dominance of the partnership. Nissan sells more cars and, unlike Renault, has a strong presence in the United States. But Renault is Nissan’s largest shareholder, with a stake of more than 40 percent, giving it the upper hand.

Mr. Senard will continue as chairman of the alliance. Despite their uneasy relationship, the French and Japanese companies need each other to survive technological upheaval as the industry moves toward electric cars with autonomous driving capability. The alliance allows them to share the enormous cost of developing the new technology.

At Volkswagen, Mr. de Meo held a variety of marketing posts. Before becoming president of SEAT, he was a member of the management board of Audi, Volkswagen’s luxury car division, responsible for sales and marketing.

Mr. de Meo worked for Renault early in his career after graduating from Bocconi University business school in Milan. Later he worked at Toyota, giving him experience with Japanese car industry culture. Mr. de Meo also worked at Fiat before joining Volkswagen in 2009.


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