Carlos Tavares is ambitious and not afraid of speaking his mind as he proved in the summer when he confessed to journalists that he had the “energy and the appetite for a No 1 position… my experience would be good for any car company”.
That remark led to his departure from Renault-Nissan where he was No 2 to Carlos Ghosn. Was it an ill-judged remark? Should letting the boss know that you think you are his equal end in dismissal?
Others can decide that. But in appointing Tavares, 55, to be Philippe Varin’s successor, the Peugeot-Citroën board has made a shrewd move. Portuguese-born Tavares is a great product man (his first job with Renault was as a test driver), an amateur racing driver and a keen follower of Formula 1. He is also an astute, clear thinking businessman and a Francophile.
He has spent more than 30 years with Renault and the Renault-Nissan alliance so he understands the French way of working, he understands how to get the best out of alliances and joint ventures. He also played a big part in helping turn round Nissan after Renault rescued it from near bankruptcy.
Tavares, an engineer, was described last year by Tom LaSorda, the former president of Chrysler, as “the best up-and-coming CEO in the auto industry” and someone who could run any car company.
He has had extensive experience in North and South America and Japan and a reputation for being a tough negotiator, all attributes that PSA will need in the challenging years ahead.
Tavares has another bonus. He is media friendly – a good bloke to interview as we hacks might put it. While the remarks that led to his departure from Renault might make his future PR minders wince with anxiety, they demonstrate that he is a very straightforward guy.
Just what PSA needs.