Fiat has expressed its regret at Luca di Montezemolo's decision to resign as chairman.

The Italian automaker has appointed current vice chairman John Elkann as replacement following Montezemolo's move to step down yesterday (20 April).

The widely-anticipated development follows speculation Montezemolo is evaluating a political career, although no details surrounding that have been forthcoming.

A brief statement from Fiat noted: "The board of directors of Fiat, which met in Turin, has elected John Elkann as Chairman of the Company. 

"The board of directors expressed its regret at Mr Montezemolo's resignation and thanked him for his service to the group during what has been an extremely challenging period."

News of Elkann's appointment comes ahead of Fiat Group's 2010-2014 business plan presentation today.

Montezemolo will remain a member of the Fiat board of directors and chairman of Ferrari.