The pressure on Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn was cranked up last week after his second in command, Patrick Pelata, 55, announced that he will step down as COO.
Ghosn's chief lieutenant, who will move to a lower and so far unspecified job in the Renault-Nissan alliance, took the bullet for an embarrassing spy incident in which Renault fired three employees suspected of giving away information on electric vehicles who turned out to have done nothing wrong.
The newspaper La Tribune reported that Nissan's Americas chief Carlos Tavares is one of three candidates being considered as Pelata's replacement. Tavares, 52, a native of Portugal, spent 23 years with Renault, where he held various top engineering posts before joining Nissan in 2004.
The paper said other potential successors to Pelata are Philippe Klein, executive vice president of product planning and programs, and CFO Dominique Thorman.
Ghosn, 57, has been hailed for his turnaround of Nissan, but these days is struggling to impress Renault investors. Now he has to carry out the carmaker's latest strategic initiative without his longtime aide-de-camp.
Ghosn told the French newspaper Les Echos that an investigation into the industrial espionage case did not implicate him and he never thought of resigning over it. Said Ghosn: "Nothing in the audit implicates me."