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Plotting a Return: PSA Peugeot Citroen Wants Back into the US

Unusual approach would start with car-sharing and mobility programs.

by on Apr.06, 2016

PSA CEO Carlos Tavares previously spent time in the U.S. running Nissan's American operations.

A quarter-century after it abandoned the American market, much to its later regret, France’s PSA Peugeot Citroen is planning its return, according to the maker’s CEO.

But rather than simply opening up a new dealer network, a strategy has had marginal benefits for Fiat, the Italian maker that also quite the U.S. market, PSA is looking at alternatives that could include using mobility and car-sharing programs to establish an American presence, suggested Chief Executive Carlos Tavares, during a presentation to analysts and investors.

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The former second-in-command at French rival Renault, Tavares has been credited with orchestrating an unexpected turnaround at PSA. It is now generating its strongest profits since the turn of the millennium, notes Automotive News, after nearly plunging into bankruptcy just two years ago.


Peugeot Mulling Return to the U.S.

French maker likely to focus on upscale DS brand.

by on Oct.08, 2014

The DS Divine Concept offers a hint of the distinctive French styling Peugeot could bring to the U.S.

It’s been more than two decades since Peugeot pulled out of the U.S. market, a decision it has openly regretted ever since. But now, after years of mulling its options, the struggling French maker appears ready to stage a return.

Several top officials discussed their options during appearances at the Paris Motor Show in recent days, and the indications are that any revival would likely focus on Peugeot’s most exclusive brand, DS. The maker gave a hint of what Americans might expect with the unveiling of the new Divine concept car at this year’s auto show.

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“We want to make DS a global premium brand, and you cannot be global without the U.S.,” Yves Bonnefont, the CEO of the highline brand, told trade journal Automotive News.


Former Renault/Nissan Star Carlos Tavares Lands Peugeot’s Top Job

Faces major challenges at floundering French automaker.

by on Nov.27, 2013

Carlos Tavares, seen during his years at Renault/Nissan with a Nissan Leaf battery car.

Less than three months after falling from grace as the likely successor to Renault/Nissan Alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn, Carlos Tavares has resurfaced – and he won’t have to move very far, taking on a new assignment as the CEO of the troubled PSA Peugeot Citroen.

Considered one of the global auto industry’s rising stars, the 55-year-old Tavares had a potentially career-ruining flame-out in August when he announced during an interview that he’d like to leave his job as chief operating officer of Renault for a job as CEO of one of Detroit’s Big Three makers.  That didn’t sit well with his then-boss Ghosn who quickly gave Tavares his walking papers.

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Exactly why Tavares spoke out was unclear.  So was the potential fallout, some observers wondering if the Portugese-born executive was simply letting the world know he wanted a better job – others warned that Tavares might have made himself untouchable.  But it turns out his timing was close to perfect and his method far from madness.


Ghosn Says Nissan Won’t Cede Battery Car Leadership

Renault/Nissan CEO reveals why his #2 left unexpectedly; suggests Europe’s car market finally on the mend.

by on Sep.10, 2013

Just because things are starting to improve, said Ghosn, "doesn't mean we shouldn't be cautious."

There were plenty of skeptics when Nissan announced plans to put a high-volume battery-electric vehicle into production, more than a few automakers contending there would be no market for the green technology and predicting the Japanese automaker might as well throw its money down a well.

Today, while sales of battery-based vehicles have fallen short of proponents’ expectations, it’s hard to find any maker not working on electric propulsion, and several – notably including Volkswagen AG – have laid out plans to become the leaders in the emerging segment. But don’t tell that to Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of Nissan and its French alliance partner Renault.  He said the Japanese makers has no intention of stepping aside for its competitors during a wide-ranging Q&A session with reporters at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

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During that discussion, Ghosn expressed his cautious optimism that after tumbling to its lowest level in two decades, the European auto market is finally on the mend. He also explained why his well-respected second-in-command, Carlos Tavares, suddenly and unexpectedly left the French side of the alliance late last month.


Tavares Out as Renault COO and One-Time Heir-Apparent to Carlos Ghosn

Executive earlier indicated interest in senior Detroit job.

by on Aug.29, 2013

Now-departed Renault COO Carlos Tavares delivering the keynote speech at the 2011 NY Auto Show while still head of Nissan Americas.

Just weeks after announcing to the world his interest as serving as the chief executive of General Motors or Ford, Carlos Tavares has handed in his keys to the executive washroom at France’s Renault.

While his comments about finding an alternative job in Detroit landed like a shockwave throughout the automotive world, Tavares’ departure from the Paris-based Renault is far less surprising, the only question being whether it was already in the works earlier this month or was the result of his candid comment.

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For its part, the French maker issued a terse release noting that, “M. Carlos Tavares has mutually agreed with Renault to cease as of today his functions of Chief Operating Officer in order to pursue other personal projects.”

What those other projects might be will now become an object of intense speculation within automotive circles and the auto media alike.


Is Nissan’s Ghosn Ready to Retire?

Exec dropping hints - but would he vanish entirely?

by on Jun.25, 2012

Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn.

One of the auto industry’s most widely respected CEOs is sending signals that he might like to retire.  But those who wonder how Nissan and its alliance partner Renault would replace 58-year-old Carlos Ghosn there may be no need to worry immediately.

The Brazilian-born executive, who serves as chief executive for both Nissan and Renault, may be ready to step down, but only sometime during the upcoming 5-year business cycle, company officials caution.

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“Ghosn has said this is the last midterm plan he’ll commit to, meaning he may not stay here for the next midterm period,” Nissan spokesman Koji Okuda told the Bloomberg news service, adding that, “We need to prepare for his possible departure within a five-year period.

It is quite possible, several industry sources suggest, that Ghosn would not bow out entirely from the Euro-Asian alliance, which was created when Renault made a critical $6 billion investment in Nissan in 1999.

Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn shown with the Infiniti LE battery-car concept during the recent NY Auto Show.


Nissan Americas’ Tavares Named New Renault COO in Wake of Spy Scandal

Renault’s gain could be Nissan’s loss.

by on May.31, 2011

Nissan Americas CEO Carlos Tavares - shown here with the Leaf battery car - will become Renault's new COO.

Carlos Tavares, the chief executive of Nissan Americas, will be heading across the Atlantic to serve as the new chief operating officer of the Japanese maker’s French affiliate, Renault.

The new assignment comes as Renault struggles to shake off the scandal that followed the firing of three senior executives falsely accused of spying for the Chinese.  That brouhaha led to a shake-up of Renault’s top management, including the ouster of COO Patrick Pelata.

The decision to move Tavares back to France has been widely expected, first reporting on it more than six weeks ago.  It’s a homecoming of sorts, Tavares having spent 23 years with the French carmaker before being assigned to the U.S. in 2004.

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The move comes at a critical time for Renault, which had been struggling to regain traction in the European market – and grow its overseas base, especially in China – even before the espionage scandal.  The loss of Pelata threatened to leave a significant void in the carmaker’s senior ranks as the former COO was considered a close confidant and ally to Carlos Ghosn, who serves as chief executive officer for both Renault and Nissan.

In a statement, Ghosn described Taveres’ appointment as “a first step in strengthening Renault’s management.” But his reassignment could be “a significant loss” for Nissan Americas, cautions Deutsche Bank’s Kurt Sanger.


Nissan to Increase North American Production, Trim Use of Japanese Parts

Maker also announces more Leaf battery cars coming to U.S.

by on Apr.21, 2011

Nissan will sharply increase the use of locally-produced parts, reducing its reliance on Japanese suppliers.

Nissan will sharply expand the use of locally-produced parts at its North American assembly plants, said Carlos Tavares, president of Nissan Americas.

That move will come at the same time the second-largest Japanese maker shifts production of more of its vehicles, including the Rogue crossover from Japan to factories in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

“We will significantly reduce the number of parts coming from Japan,” said Tavares, keynote speaker at the 2011 New York Auto Show.  The goal is to jump from the current level of 69% locally-sourced components to 85%, he added.

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Like rivals Honda and Toyota, Nissan was hard hit by the series of disasters that struck Japan on March 11, losing the better part of a month of production in the home market alone.  But Tavares said all of Nissan’s plants are now in operation, the maker having found ways to “bypass parts shortages” caused by the crisis.

In his speech and a subsequent question-and-answer session, the Portugese-born (more…)

First Look: 2012 Nissan Versa sedan

by on Apr.20, 2011

Nissan brings the new Versa sedan to the Big Apple.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  Or in Nissan’s case, the hatchback or the sedan?

The maker has set off a bit of confusion by splitting the launch of its updated subcompact line-up between the Shanghai Motor Show, earlier this week, and a separate Wednesday news conference at the New York Auto Show.

For American motorists, it turns out, the four-door model shown in New York, and badged Nissan Versa, will be the update they’ll be seeing later this year at U.S. dealerships.  But that will be followed by a 5-door based on the Nissan Tiida unveiled in China, it turns out.

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Nissan sees the upcoming update as a chance for it to redefine how it competes in the small car market – moving away from the classic econobox and into something more stylish, roomy and well-equipped, noted Carlos Tavares, CEO of Nissan Americas, during a Big Apple news conference.

The 2012 Versa should also play well with those focusing on fuel economy, the new model getting a roughly 5 mile per gallon bump, to 30 mpg City, 37 Highway, according to the EPA, and 33 on the Combined scale.


Sebring Sees Nissan Return To Big-time Sports Car Racing

After 15 years, Japanese maker becomes engine supplier – and gets class pole and second-place first time out.

by on Mar.21, 2011

Nissan gets serious about motorsports with its new LMP2 racer making a Sebring debut.

Nissan has a long and rich history in sports car racing that dates back to 1966.  Here in America, they raced the little Datsun 510 sedan, the famous 240 Z and its successors, and a raft of Nissan-powered sports prototypes that competed in IMSA GTP prototype and Group C racing at the 24 Hours of  Le Mans.

Nissan came roaring back to prototype racing at the 2011 12 Hours of Sebring — where it won overall victories in 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1994 — as an engine supplier to the French Signatech team racing in the LMP2 class for prototypes will small engines.  Signatech’s campaign was led by French drivers Soheil Ayari and Franck Mailleux and 25-year-old newcomer Lucas Ordoñez, who got the seat by playing PlayStation 360 GT5 against all comers in the Nissan PlayStation GT Academy competition in 2008 — and training in real cars ever since.

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“Nissan is excited to see our new partnership with Signature kick off and we look forward to a very successful partnership with the team,” said Jon Brancheau, vice-president for marketing at Nissan. “I know our customers, fans and dealers will be following our progress at Sebring and will be anticipating our return to the Le Mans 24 hours.”

The Signatech Nissan racing team will contest the entire 2011 season of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC) series. The 7-race schedule includes Sebring, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 1000 Km of Spa-Francorchamps and a return to U.S. soil for the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Saturday, October 1, 2011, followed by the season-ending event in China.