Carlos Tavares is a man of ambition. As well he should be, because you don’t get to the top ranks of a major industrial group without it. But as chief operating officer of Renault, there was only so far he could go in the shadow of his boss Carlos Ghosn. So with an eye toward running a major automaker, Tavares left Renault a couple of months ago, expressing his desire to run an automaker like Ford or GM. Now Tavares has gotten what he wanted, but he won’t have to move to Detroit to get it. Instead he’s staying right there in France as the new head of PSA Peugeot Citroën.
The move was announced at the French automaker’s headquarters in Paris as PSA aims to garner investment from China, prompting current chief executive Philippe Varin to step aside (whether voluntarily or otherwise) and make room for Tavares. Varin will for the time being keep the role he’s held since 2009 as Tavares joins the managing board at the start of the year before taking its reins at some point thereafter.
Although PSA and its brands Peugeot and Citroën may not register much on our radar, since they don’t participate in the North American market, the French group ranks as one of the largest automakers in the world. Its sales last year placed it as the eighth biggest producer of automobiles in the world (behind Toyota, GM, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Ford, Nissan and Honda) and a couple of positions ahead of Renault. So not only is this a step up for Tavares in terms of where he sits at the table, it’s also a bigger table altogether.