The just-finalized merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA Group to create Stellantis will raise the global profile of an under-the-radar chief executive who will lead a vast and massively complex carmaker with quiet intensity.
The market debut this week of Stellantis will function as coming-out party for CEO Carlos Tavares, who held the same title at PSA. Tavares has spent a 40-year career rising up the ladder of an industry that birthed the modern day celebrity CEO, engineering impressive turnarounds while largely going unrecognized taking commercial flights in and out of Detroit.
The wiry, hyperactive 62-year-old Tavares has shown little desire to be another Lee Iacocca, Dieter Zetsche, Sergio Marchionne or Carlos Ghosn. But whether he comes around to the spotlight or not, he will get much more of it steering an empire of roughly 400,000 employees and 14 brands into an uncertain future, where cars increasingly run off of batteries and software, and the combustion engine meets its demise.
“He’s not selling Carlos, and he doesn’t want to,” said Jim Press, an auto executive who worked with Tavares when the latter headed Nissan’s North American operations. “He develops people and organizations. The guy is a great businessman.”