Luca de Meo behind the wheel: new hope for Renault
On Wednesday, Luca de Meo, former head of Seat, is taking control of Renault as the new CEO. The Italian-born 53-year-old gets the difficult task of putting back on its feet a company traumatized by the fall of Ghosn, shaken by its first net losses for ten years and in the midst of a 2 billion euros two-year austerity plan.
“I’m optimistic and confident in the fact that we will make of Renault one of the best surprises of the investment folder. If we observe my long career, we always find the same trait, I’ve always liked going where there are challenges: a brand to rebuild, a financial situation to put back on its feet, talents to federate.”
“It’s with humility and serenity that I’ll take office on July 1st. Humility, because the challenge is a large one. And serenity because it’s a situation that I’ve experienced in the past and in which I could see that we can get out of it from the top,” declared Luca de Meo at the investors’ board meeting on June 19th.
Take back control
According to many experts, Renault must center its activity and deal with low volume models. “The austerity plan can make sense if it’s done within the framework of a clear and defined strategy. It’s not giving that impression right now,” estimates Franck Daoût from the CFDT union.
De Meo will have to use his knowledge, acquired during his time at Toyota, Fiat, and in the Volkswagen Group, to define Renault’s future strategy. He will have to rejuvenate and reinforce the brand’s EV range while pursuing the success of Dacia.
With its two-year 2 billion austerity plan, Renault will reduce its assembly line workforce by some 2 100 jobs in France alone. Production sites, such as Choisy-le-Roi and Flins will also be stopped. However, not all is set in stone. The new CEO will have to finalize the restructuring while minimizing investments.
To add to his already full plate, De Meo also finds himself with the task of renewing the dialogue between management and the workforce and remotivating that same workforce.
“It’s like a football team: when you’re on the brink of relegation, it’s demoralizing. At Seat, teams were centered in the short term. With a change in their state of mind, we managed to launch a much more ambitious strategy,” said Luca de Meo to French newspaper Figaro in 2019.
Finances and confidence
“De Meo will be in charge of piloting the 2-billion-euros cost cut plan,” says the brand. The 53-year-old really has his work cut out as he will have to balance the number and choice of models, technology investments, and allocations of models to assembly lines within a tight budget.
The relation with the French State, Renault’s major shareholder (15,01%), will also have to be bettered. The failed merger with FCA, which was blocked by the state, lefts its traces. “The nomination of Luca De Meo is excellent news. With this nomination and a new managing team at Nissan last year, the Alliance is now relaunched on a conquering logic,” notes Bruno Le Maire, French Economy Minister.