Carlos Tavares Parts Ways with Renault Shortly after Saying He’d Like to Run GM or Ford

In the very rigid corporate world, one has to be really careful what he or she says in public, especially when holding a top management position. Of all the mistakes a high-ranking executive can make, publicly stating one’s desire to work for the competition is probably the hardest one to swallow for the company’s shareholders.

Surprisingly, this is exactly what Renault Group’s No. 2 executive Carlos Tavares did a couple of weeks ago. In an August 14 interview with Bloomberg, Renault’s Chief Operating Officer said he would be interested in running GM or Ford given that Carlos Ghosn plans to remain Renault CEO for the near future.

“We have a big leader and he is here to stay. Anyone who is passionate about the auto industry comes to a conclusion that there is a point where you have the energy and appetite for a No. 1 position,” Tavares said.

Coincidence or (more likely) not, Renault today released a statement announcing that Tavares will step down with immediate effect from his role of Chief Operating Officer “in order to pursue other personal projects.” The release also says the two sides mutually agreed to part ways, with CEO Carlos Ghosn to “temporarily carry out the duties of Chief Operating Officer.”

It’s interesting to see where the 55-year-old Portuguese executive will go next. Tavares joined Renault more than 30 years ago as a test-driving engineer and moved up the corporate ladder to eventually run the North American operations of Nissan Motor Company, Renault’s alliance partner. He was appointed Renault COO two years ago after former COO Patrick Pelata had to resign over a spy scandal in which three senior managers were wrongfully dismissed.

Under Tavares, Renault reported unexpected growth in first-half profit. He also had a leading role in the plans to revive the Alpines ports car brand and to expand the Initiale Paris sub-brand into a luxury division.

By Dan Mihalascu

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