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11 Oct 17

The pattern and the strategy behind PSA's latest high-profile hire

The high-profile switch by Alain Raposo, Renault's head of engine development, to PSA sheds some light on the latter group's engineering strategies – and on the curious pattern of personnel transfers between the two French manufacturers.

As reported elsewhere on Fleet Europe, Mr. Raposo was sidelined earlier this year as the head of engine development (both conventional and electric) at Renault, left the company and joined PSA in July. He now is Senior Vice President at Peugeot, and in charge of Electric Vehicles Programmes and Strategy for the PSA Group, which comprises the Peugeot, Citroën and DS brands. 

Welcome addition
For PSA, Mr. Raposo is a welcome addition of expertise in a field the group is keen to develop further in order to catch up with Renault, which has a head start in electric engines. In fact, it would seem that PSA set up the EV Programmes and Strategy department specifically for Mr. Raposo. 

Until now, PSA's only involvement in electric mobility is via its partnership with Mitsubishi. As part of its 'Push to Pass' strategic plan, PSA has however announced that it aims to market four EVs by 2020. For those models, PSA is developing an electric Common Modular Platform (e-CMP) in close cooperation with Chinese manufacturer Dongfeng. 

450 km range
The first EV, which is slated for commercialisation in 2019, will be fitted with the latest lithium-ion battery technology, giving it a range of 450 km. Ultra-fast recharging should result in a recharge rate of 12 km per minute. 

So, Mr. Raposo and his new EV department at PSA have plenty of work on his plate. Alain Raposo brings an entire career's worth of Renault motor engineering knowledge to PSA. He joined Renault in 1987, straight out of school (having obtained degrees in engineering at IFP in Rueil-Malmaison and the equally prestigious INSA in Toulouse). 

From 2005 to 2008, he spent some time at the engineering department of Renault's Alliance partner Nissan. Upon his return from Japan, he was appointed Vice President of Powertrain Design and Validation, in 2012 becoming the Director of Powertrain Planning Office for the Renault-Nissan Alliance. 

Familiar pattern
In 2014, he assumed what was to be his last post within the Alliance, heading the Powertrain and EV Engineering department. At the end of last year, Mr. Raposo was relieved of his post because the convergence between Renault and Nissan engine development was not proceeding as fast as projected. 

Not only is Mr. Raposo's arrival an unexpected boon for PSA's EV development programme, it also repeats a familiar pattern for the migration of talent between the two rival French manufacturers – which mainly flows in one direction: from Renault-Nissan to PSA. 

Reporting on the transition of Mr. Raposo, Les Echos listed a whole raft of executives who have preceded him in recent years. 

Olivier Bourges, currently General Counsel of PSA Group and Chairman of the Board of Banque PSA France, joined Renault in 2000 and spent nine years with the Alliance, overseeing Investor Relations, Vehicle Profitability and Corporate Planning for Renault and Nissan, among other responsibilities. 

Yann Vincent, Industrial Director at PSA, has held executive offices at Renault and associated brand Avtovaz (Lada). Emmanuel Delay, Operational Director India-Pacific for PSA, spent a decade working for Nissan. Stephen Norman, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at PSA, previously worked in the same field at Renault. 

Of course, the flow of personnel and the timing of that flow  is less mysterious once you take on board the fact that Carlos Tavares (pictured), currently the CEO of PSA Group, until 2013 was second-in-command at... Renault.

Image: LeWeb13, CC BY 2.0

Authored by: Frank Jacobs