Mike Jackson isn't going to "beat it," just yet.

The largest U.S. auto retail chain AutoNation Inc. (AN) - Get Report announced on Wednesday, Sept. 19, that Chief Executive Officer Mike Jackson will step down from the role next year but will remain on the board of directors.

Jackson will transition from his current position as CEO, president and chairman to executive chairman in 2019. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida-based AutoNation extended his contract to remain in that role through 2021.

Jackson, 69, began serving as AutoNation's CEO in 1999, after being the head of Mercedes-Benz USA. During his nearly 20-year tenure, he "solidified the company's position as the largest automotive retailer in America, selling the most vehicles ever," the company said in a statement. In July, Jackson was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.

"Not only is Mike Jackson an inspirational and visionary corporate leader who is personally responsible for many automotive firsts, he's been the respected voice of the automotive industry for the last 20 years," said Michael Larson, AutoNation's lead independent director. "AutoNation's board will initiate its search for the next CEO who can take the baton from Mike and lead AutoNation into its next phase of continued growth and success."

The company has retained executive search firm Spencer Stuart to assist the board of directors in the CEO succession process, which will consider both internal and external candidates.

Shares of AutoNation gained 2.5% to $44.15 at 10:00 a.m. New York time. Since the beginning of Jackson's tenure, AutoNation shares have more than tripled, although this year the stock is down about 14%.

TheStreet's Jim Cramer in August told investors to stay away from AutoNation's stock, instead declaring a preference for another car dealer.

"At the beginning of the year, I told you to avoid AutoNation's stock and stick with the better-run, used-car-vehicle heavy CarMax (KMX) - Get Report ," Cramer said on CNBC's Mad Money on Aug. 8. "That's been a good call, and, if anything, things are looking even better for CarMax here, especially since its stock remains darned cheap, selling for just 15 times next year's earnings estimates."

Even though AutoNation's stock is down this year, Jackson predicted a "day of reckoning" for another automaker: Tesla Inc. (TSLA) - Get Report

"On the Model 3, if you're skimming the top like [Elon Musk] is now, he's only building if you spec it out above $50,000, you may be OK and he'll build it for you in two months," Jackson said on CNBC on Wednesday. "If you want one at $35,000, he may never build it for you."

"Is this a sustainable business model? I think when you're skimming the Model 3 with a bait-and-switch strategy, maybe it works, but there's going to be a day of reckoning," Jackson said.

Telsa shares rose 0.6% to $286.66.

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