Nissan Motor Comapny president Carlos Ghosn says he will become chairman of Renault SA in 2005 when current chairman Louis Schweitzer retires, but he will retain his job as president and chief executive of Nissan.

A chief operating officer will be appointed at Nissan and perhaps another one at Renault later, Ghosn told reporters, including a just-auto correspondent, during a round table session at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

It makes little sense to merge the two companies, Ghosn said, because it would destroy value.

He also pointed out that Nissan shareholders want some confidence that the new culture at Nissan that began with the turnaround plan and his arrival in 1999 will continue.

Nissan is in the midst of second three-year plan after completing a restructuring plan last year that involved shedding assets, eliminating lifetime employment and breaking up the company’s keiretsu.

The new programme, Nissan 180, calls for an increase in global vehicle production of one million units annually by 2005, operating profit of 8% and zero net automotive debt.

Debt will fall to $US700 million by the end of the current fiscal year this March, from $19 billion when Ghosn arrived in 1999 at the near-bankrupt Japanese car maker.