A ‘commendatore’ to the French court from the engine

last September, during the last Salon Frankfurt, Seat, offered a gift to the visitors to the exhibitor: a cloth bag with a message to choose between a few that

A ‘commendatore’ to the French court from the engine

last September, during the last Salon Frankfurt, Seat, offered a gift to the visitors to the exhibitor: a cloth bag with a message to choose between a few that was printed at the time. Most were extremely formal, as usual in an industry much given to the show, but nothing to the stridency. Except one. “Move your ass” [Move your ass], he said. For nothing it sounded like foreboding, but it did make think that the Spanish company of the German group has internalized that wants to be a brand trusted to the couple that fresh and uninhibited. A little to the image and likeness of its current president, Luca de Meo (Milan, 1967).

Because the man who now intends to sign Renault to occupy his presidency is an experienced but young executive of the automotive industry, specialist in marketing, with elegance made in Italy and are allergic to the traditional suit that you saw in this industry. So different and yet so similar to their colleagues in their ambitions: raises to leave a company that sells half a million vehicles a year to preside over Renault, a manufacturer eight times greater than fight for the title of the world in its alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi. The multinational wants to definitively leave behind the stage of Carlos Ghosn, now starring in a soap opera followed by half the world after his daring flight from Japan to circumvent the justice accused of tax fraud.

give definitely the step and accept the charge, Luca de Meo would go directly in the French court of the automotive industry, with a guaranteed place at the presidential table of the industry globally, where I would share cloth with your up to now head of the Volkswagen Group, Herbert Diess next to the Uchiyamada (Toyota), Barra (General Motors) and Tavares (PSA) in turn, the low aristocracy that make up the larger truth.

De Meo, appointed a year ago president in Spain for Volskwagen, was delighted with his destination in Barcelona and had assumed his new role as leader of the national sector. In December it was going to be appointed president of Anfac, the employer's Spanish trademarks, and had been drafted into the executive committee of the prestigious Circle of Economy. And that assumes your role of an expatriate with total normality, and with a phrase that has become popular each time he wants to opine about an internal matter: “I, who am the foreigner...” But in the end this graduate in Business Administration from the Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi of Milan with 20 years of experience in the sector has not been able to resist —at least to negotiate— the piece of candy that you put in the hands: take over the management of Renault in a moment in which it seems decided that its alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi can only intensify.

Their tasks are not easy. Not to come at the best time for the French group, touched still by the virus Ghosn after the daring escape of the exejecutivo of Japan and with the company releasing profit warnings because their results will not be as good as expected. But it is supposed ability to change directions and, above all, to reposition brands for his past at Renault (where he started), Toyota, Fiat, Audi and Seat. And an innate ability to negotiate, question essential to treat with the French State (shareholder with 15% of Renault) and to try to bring positions with the shareholders of Nissan.

The five languages that he speaks (Italian, French, German, English and Spanish) will help, although people who know him affirm that the decision will take: it depends on not only the company —and the French State— to give the imprimatur, also of the possible incompatibilities that may present your current contract to switch to the competition. “He admits that going for long,” says a person who deals with it.

Meo would leave the Seat in your best time. The Spanish company has not only returned to the benefits, but you earn more money than ever, even if he assumed that after this result was the work of his two predecessors: especially Jürgen Stackman, but also James Muir. The fruits of their work are, perhaps, more intangible. The executive milanese summed up well to THE COUNTRY last September: “There's a roll to be very positive around the brand.” Maybe that explains the pessimism existing in the last few weeks at the headquarters of the company, aware that they may lose an affable guy who has given sympathy —and prominence— to a mark that had never before managed to get the head of the Volkswagen Group, more accustomed to hear threats of the type “this is the last opportunity” to have orders strategic from Wolfsburg.

The miracle of Spanish’

And Seat, now, is in this. Perhaps the greatest success for a manager that landed in Martorell (Barcelona) after the dieselgate, when the Volkswagen Group launched a dance of managers to purge the scandal of cheating of the engines. It came with the title of commendatore, the award that provides the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. With his affable character and his charisma got a few good results and since a few months I had an obsession at the margin of the Seat: to defend what it called the “miracle Spanish” of the automotive industry, surprised by the fact that there were in Spain 17 factories of automotive industry without a single matrix truly national. Own your finnezza, he complained without complaining about the fact that in the pages of the economic press to leave the bench at all times and, in change, the automotive industry, remain relegated to the sidelines, symptom —he said— of what he felt the country for the sector. And even called the Government to participate in the necessary restructuring of the automotive industry like it did with the banking during the crisis. A speech that the foreigner will be hard to repeat in Paris.

The big challenges of the Spanish company

Luca de Meo has experience in changes: in his time at Fiat launched the Abarth and Cinquecento and in the Audi opened up the smallest segment of the hand of the A1 (which, incidentally, is manufactured in Martorell). But his great discovery has been produced at Seat company, its parent, Volkswagen Group, has commissioned the development of the services strategy of electromobility in the German group at the same time that we passed the challenge to drive forward the electric car smaller group, test of fire for an industry that wants to democratize the vehicles zero emissions without ceasing to earn money. And in addition you have been given autonomy for the singular experiment of Cupra, the sub-brand with which Seat you want to approach pockets more affluent.

Updated Date: 05 January 2020, 15:00

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