When Carlos Ghosn officially hands over the baton as CEO of Nissan next month, the car business is going to be a little quieter.
Ghosn isn't retiring. He will still be chairman of Nissan, chairman of Mitsubishi, and CEO of Renault in Paris. But he won't have the day-to-day megaphone as Nissan's CEO.
Ghosn has spent the past 18 years stirring up change in the business. Sometimes, it was like a boisterous friend mussing up your hair on purpose. He used his position as an industry bully pulpit, speaking his mind about what ought to happen around the world. And he was right about a lot of things.
He was right about EVs, even if volumes have not yet borne out his vision. His audiences and some of his competitors were often incredulous at his assertion that consumers would want zero-emission cars, that mass-market, family-oriented EVs were feasible, and that the way to get into an electrified marketplace was not to tiptoe in, but to plunge in with both feet and lots of cash.
Many in the industry are now joining that party.
Ghosn also was right -- and provocatively so -- in his predictions about the rapid arrival of autonomous vehicles. In the summer of 2013, Ghosn was among the first in the industry to proclaim he would have autonomous vehicles in the showroom by 2020.
It seemed impossible, and you could hear the gasps. But others followed in his wake. And now look at the industry.
Ghosn made no apologies for demanding big results from his executives. He did not take the slow-and-easy approach to growing Nissan around the world. He insisted on fast responses. He spoke quickly. He moved quickly.
It was sometimes startling to hear Ghosn talk. Now, at least for a while, it will be startling to not hear him talk.