Any outside candidate will need to have a thick skin to handle the fickle French government — which holds a 15 percent stake and wields outsize influence over strategy, especially in any areas that could touch employment — as well as the physical and mental stamina to endure long flights to and from Tokyo.
Perhaps most important, that person must have Nissan's approval, much as Senard is said to have given his blessing to the Japanese automaker's new governing tribunal of CEO Makoto Uchida, COO Ashwani Gupta and Deputy COO Jun Seki. On Friday, Senard described Nissan's new management team as "extraordinarily pro-alliance."
Senard said Renault would take its time seeking a permanent CEO, but he said that person would "need to have the ability to comprehend the alliance's imperatives in an international context."
Whether Renault picks a caretaker CEO or someone with a long-term future, that person will inherit an automaker with relatively solid fundamentals, although profits and sales have slumped this year.
Renault is not alone in feeling the effects of a slowdown in European and global auto sales. It has suffered in the past 18 months from an aging lineup, but replacements for Renault's two global bestsellers, the small Clio hatchback and Captur SUV, are going on the market this autumn.
Thanks to Ghosn's aggressive — and costly — push for electrification early in this decade, Renault is expected to meet Europe's increasingly stringent emissions targets without paying penalties, and it has been amortizing EV development costs for years.
Renault is also globally diversified, with operations in more than 150 countries, another Ghosn hallmark, allowing it a hedge against currency and economic fluctuations, although it has been hit hard this year by Argentina's financial collapse.
It is not heavily invested in the slumping Chinese market, where it has a relatively small joint venture with Dongfeng Motor that produces SUVs, and it controls a domestic maker of minibuses and minivans, Jinbei-Brilliance.
Nonetheless, Renault needs a strong alliance with Nissan to help share development costs, drive hard bargains in purchasing (another Ghosn obsession) and finance expensive future technologies such as autonomous vehicles. As examples, Renault's new models rely on Nissan's ProPilot Level 2 advanced driver assistance system, and the alliance is close to rolling out a common EV platform, which critics have said is long overdue.
But Senard was adamant on Friday that those waiting for swift, radical change in the Renault-Nissan relationship shouldn't hold their breath. Nissan and Renault first needed to get used to new management teams, he said. And after being in crisis mode for 11 months, he added, "there's a need to take the time to relax and reflect."