Step aside Elon Musk, because Carlos Ghosn is the real auto industry superstar after reports indicate the globe-hopping executive is set to add Mitsubishi Motors to his long list of leadership roles in the sector.
The CEO of both Nissan (NSANY) and Renault (RNLSY) , once dubbed "Le Cost Killer" by the French media and the subject of superhero comic series in Japan, will likely become chairman at Mitsubishi Motors by the end of this year, according to a report Wednesday from Japan's Nikkei newspaper.
The 62-year old Ghosn is also the CEO and Chairman of Renault-Nissan Alliance, a role he's held since 2001 after a strategic cross-shareholding agreement between the two companies. The Alliance is the world's leading manufacturer of plug-in electric vehicle and producer of the world's top selling electric car the Nissan Leaf. It sold 8.5 million vehicles last year.
Mitsubishi Motors shares closed 7.8% higher in Toyko, the biggest one-day gain in five months.
Nikkei also reported that Nissan will soon finalize its purchase of a 34% stake in its smaller peer. Nissan in May said it would buy a controlling stake in Mitsubishi from around ¥237 billion ($2.3 billion) after it became embroiled in an emissions testing scandal. Shares have fallen almost 40% since May.
"We are not going to change Mitsubishi. Mitsubishi is going to change itself. We are going to support Mitsubishi to do that," Ghosn said in a statement when the deal was announced.
The reports come at a tense time for the troubled Japanese carmaker, which was found in May to have falsified data on the fuel economy of four models, including two produced for Nissan.
More than half a million cars were said to be involved in the scandal, which was discovered by Nissan after inconsistencies in the way vehicles were tested was found.
In August, Mitsubishi Motors was also found to have overstated the mileage of eight additional models, including the Pajero and Outlander sport utility vehicle. The automaker blamed poor communication, lax governance and internal pressure for its lack of compliance. This forced Tetsuro Aikawa out of the top position.
Ghosn joined Renault from Michelin in 1996 as executive vice president in charge of purchasing, advanced research, engineering and development, powertrain operation and manufacturing. His radical restructure returned the company to profitability in 1997. He become President and CEO in 2005, and Chairman and CEO in 2008.
Along with keeping his responsibilities at Renault, Ghosn became COO at Nissan after the French carmaker bought a 36.8% stake in Nissan. He was named President and CEO in June 2001, he added the chairman role in 2008.
In 1999, Ghosn announced the Nissan Revival Plan, which called for a return to profitability in the fiscal year 2000, profit margin in excess of 4.5% sales by the end of fiscal year 2002 and a 50% reduction in the level of debt by the end of FY 2002. The plan that was successful.
He also spearheaded a structural and corporate-culture changes at the company.
Ghosn became a well-known and popular figure in Japan after he returned Nissan to profitability. His life has even been turned into a superhero comic book series in Japan, called The True Story of Carlos Ghosn. He also has a bento box named after him in some Tokyo restaurants.
The perpetual rescuer looks like he now has his sights set on Mitsubishi.