Nissan's Carlos Ghosn steps down as chief executive
'Le Cost Killer' to focus on building other brands in Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance
Nissan's Carlos Ghosn has announced he is stepping down as chief executive after leading the firm for 18 years.
He will remain as head of the board of directors and oversee the alliance between Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi.
"As Nissan's chairman, I will continue to supervise and guide the company, both independently and within the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi," Ghosn said. "I am committed to supporting the alliance as it evolves and expands."
Company veteran and co-chief executive Hiroto Saikawa, who has 40 years of experience behind him, will take over the role from 1 April.
"Ghosn ends years of speculation over when he would relinquish the top job at Japan's No. 2 cer [sic] maker amid investor concerns that he was stretching himself too thin," said The Independent.
"The timing is a bit surprising," Takeshi Miyao, head of automotive consultancy Carnorama, told Reuters. "It appears Ghosn has decided very quickly that Saikawa is the right person to lead the company."
Ghosn was handed the nickname "Le Cost Killer" after rebuilding the once "struggling" Nissan firm, Autocar says. He's also credited for investing in "highly innovative products", such as the critically acclaimed Qashqai cross-over.
He now faces the challenge of turning Mitsubishi around following the fuel economy scandal that emerged last year, says Forbes, while Renault needs to "further develop its strategy", although it has "met its profitability targets".
His next project will focus on the alliance producing a "budget electric car" for the Chinese market that all share the same production platform.
The businessman spoke about electric vehicles when he appeared at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.