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Close encounters of the Ghosn kind

I attended a Renault press briefing on Wednesday with Carlos Ghosn and a select bunch of (mostly national newspaper) journalists.

Ghosn – or Mr Ghosn as almost everyone defers to him – is an impressive man with an outstanding track record at Nissan, something he is hoping to replicate at Renault.

Regularly trumpeted as the most respected leader in automotive, he’s also the nearest the industry has to a full blown celebrity. At the recent Frankfurt show, during a walkabout, he was constantly approached by people asking for his autograph.

After the press event, during which he neatly sidestepped the most difficult questions with the deftness of a politician, (Mr) Ghosn held court with a rather bigger (and more important) audience, consisting of some 40 retailers, 40 fleet representatives and assorted VIPs from Government and the pricing guides.

He clearly thinks a lot about the UK as it is the only market he visited to discuss Renault future plans with such a large audience. It was a brief two-and-a-half hour visit as well, as he had to be back in France for an executive board meeting later that day (actually at 6pm – like the industry in general, Ghosn puts in the hours).

Putting journalists and retailers in the same room during a Q&A could’ve been a recipe for disaster and there were some tasty questions about over-capacity and unrealistic targets (see AM October 19 for more on that).

But, furthering his political reputation – apparently he’s already turned down an opportunity to go into politics – Ghosn came out of the session unscathed, not least helped by passing on some of the trickier UK-specific questions for Renault UK boss Roland Bouchara to answer!


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