Carlos Ghosn plans to step aside as CEO of Nissan as of April 1 but will remain as chairman, the Japanese auto giant said in a statement.

Ghosn, who has taken on increased responsibilities at Mitsubishi Motors, said his decision would allow him to “devote more time and energy to managing the strategic and operational evolution and expansion of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance.”

Hiroto Saikawa will succeed Ghosn as CEO.

"I am confident that the management team I have developed at Nissan over the past 18 years has the talent and experience to meet the company's operational and strategic goals,” Ghosn said.

Saikawa, who joined Nissan in 1977 after graduating from Tokyo University, currently is automaker’s co-CEO and a representative director. Earlier he served as chief competitive officer and chairman of the management committees of the Americans and Europe, as well as executive vice president of purchasing. Outside Nissan, Saikawa is chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association. He also has served on the board of directors for Renault.

Ghosn also serves as chairman for Mitsubishi, in which Nissan obtained a controlling stake in November.

The Detroit News said Nissan has been grooming Saikawa for the role since last year. He has had complete control over research, design and other operations.

Bloomberg said Ghosn, known as “Le Cost Killer” for his leveraging the alliance with Renault, will concentrate on revamping Mitsibishi. He is credited with turning Nissan around after becoming chief operating officer in 1999, restoring it to profitability by shutting down plants and altering the supply chain.

“It’s appropriate for Ghosn to step away from running the business day-to-day, and to devote all his time to thinking about the cosmic issues confronting the business,” Maryann Keller, an independent auto analyst in Stamford, Connecticut, told Bloomberg. “It’s a different game today,” she said. “You can’t play it the same you played it in 1995.”