PARIS -- French auto group Renault, which controls Nissan of Japan, today announced that its deputy head Carlos Tavares is leaving his functions immediately, barely two weeks after he publicly said he wanted to head a U.S. auto group.
In a statement, the French company said Tavares has stepped down from his position as second in command of the group responsible for operations at Renault (IW 1000/80), effective immediately.
Aside from saying that 55-year-old Tavares, who has spent most of his career with Renault and Nissan, wanted to pursue personal projects, the group gave no further comment on his departure.
The news comes two weeks after Tavares gave an interview to financial newswire Bloomberg in which he said he had little prospect of being able to succeed CEO Carlos Ghosn as head of the group one day.
In the interview, published Aug. 14, Tavares said, "We have a big leader and he is here to stay." He added that "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."
Ghosn, 59, is nearing the end of his mandate with Renault, which set to expire next year, but so far there are few signs indicating that he plans to leave the post.
U.S. is Tavares' Best Bet
Tavares underscored that to lead a car group, his best bet would probably be in the United States, where he would like to head one of the big auto giants such as General Motors or Ford, which will soon have to renew their top management.
"My experience would be good for any car company," Tavares said. "Why not GM? I would be honored to lead a company like GM."
A source close to the matter said Tavares' comments had caught Renault and its management by surprise. Ghosn allegedly called the statements "bolts of lightning from a clear blue sky."
A Renault spokesman said Ghosn will temporarily take over the functions held by Tavares, who has been the company's number two since 2011.
On announcing the departure, Renault said organizational changes aimed at boosting the company’s industrial and commercial performance would be announced soon.
In afternoon trading, shares in the company had fallen 0.93% to 54.53 euros in an overall lower Paris market where the CAC 40 index showed a loss of 0.12%.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013