It was confirmed early in the year, but because of a non-compete clause in his former contract, Luca de Meo will only take up his new role as CEO of Renault on July 1. From next month, he will take over from interim CEO Clotilde Delbos, who will be deputy CEO, and Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard.

The former Seat boss said on Friday that he is confident the ailing French carmaker could deliver a positive surprise for investors after a period of faltering sales and margins. Renault recently announced major cost cuts that will involve 15,000 jobs, with the ultimate goal of saving RM9.7 billion by 2024.

Speaking to shareholders at an annual meeting and reported by Reuters, De Meo said he shared a “sense of urgency” with teams at Renault to deliver on its restructuring. “I’ve always liked to go where there are challenges. I know that with everyone’s help, we can make Renault one of the best turnaround surprises in your investment portfolio,” De Meo said, adding he was conscious of Renault’s problems.

Seat’s Cupra was spun off as a performance brand under De Meo; will Renault’s Alpine survive under him?

The report noted that De Meo is taking the helm at a rather difficult time, not just for the auto industry, but for the French carmaker and its rocky alliance with Nissan that peaked with the ouster and arrest of former Renault and Alliance supremo Carlos Ghosn. The Italian is expected to announce a new strategic plan by the end of 2020 or early 2021, which would include a vision for the models Renault is to focus on.

Apparently, the CEO-in-waiting recently asked staff to prepare him with memos on the group’s brands and their performance, and people at Renault have said that De Meo took interest and was complementary about Alpine sports cars. Seat, VW’s Spanish brand that he headed, has a sporty flavour and recently spun off Cupra as a separate performance brand. Could the brand and the Dieppe factory that makes the Alpine A110 live on under De Meo? While he has a big financial job to do, the Italian is also known to have a passion for cars.

More on Renault’s cost-cutting measures and the new Renault, Nissan, Mitsubishi global leader-follower strategy in the links.