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Carlos Tavares is set as CEO of the auto industry's next giant

Carlos Tavares
PSA Groupe CEO Carlos Tavares. Photo: Julien de Rosa/IP3 via Getty Images

Carlos Tavares, a weekend racer with a gutsy instinct on and off the track, will soon be in charge of the world's fourth-largest automaker.

Why it matters: Since last year's death of Fiat Chrysler's Sergio Marchionne and arrest of Renault-Nissan's Carlos Ghosn, the global auto industry has been looking for its next Lee Iacocca or Bob Lutz. Here comes Tavares.

Driving the news: The Portugal-born boss of France's PSA Groupe is slated to become CEO in a 50-50 merger between the Peugeot parent and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

As I reported in Forbes in 2017, Tavares is a dynamic, thoughtful leader who keeps his eyes on what's ahead.

  • Once a top lieutenant to Ghosn, he got canned after telling a reporter he wanted to be CEO. A few months later, he got his wish at the nearly bankrupt PSA.
  • He has a reputation for efficiency, turning loss-producing businesses into moneymakers, but his challenge now will be navigating the disruptive technology changes roiling the industry.
  • He's prepared to adapt. "We are dinosaurs," he told me in 2017. "And if we don't want to disappear like dinosaurs, we have to operate in a different way."

What to watch: The industry is taking note of Tavares' ambition. "Number 4 is not his goal," one exec told me. "If I’m Toyota, GM or VW, I’m shaking in my boots."

Go deeper... Report: Fiat Chrysler and France's PSA agree to merger terms