Ford wanted to hire Carlos Ghosn instead of Mulally. Ghosn said no. Kerkorian wanted Ghosn to save GM, Wagoner prevented it. For you, dear TTAC reader, Carlos Ghosn is available.
Chief of Nissan and Renault, Ghosn is the ultimate rock star of the industry. He is the master of the unprepared remark. Any of his statements, delivered with French-Brazilian-Lebanese flair and his trademark gesticulations, is more profound than thousands of PowerPoints delivered by overpaid management consultants. Today, absolutely free of charge, Carlos Ghosn lets us in on the secrets of running a successful car company.
“You need a good strategy. If you don’t have a good strategy, no matter how much scale you have, you will achieve nothing. After the good strategy you need to have a good management team. We are people, we make decisions all the time, and if you make the wrong decisions, no matter how big your scale is, you are not going in the right direction. Once you have a good strategy and a good team, then the difference is made by scale.”
“The car business is a business of scale. An 8 million car company will be doing much better than a 3 million car company. Some companies have scale by themselves, some don’t. Is it impossible for those to get scale? No. Alliances are a very good way. Small or medium-sized companies join forces, and all of a sudden, they benefit from scale.”
“In our business you need a vision, then you need a strategy, then you need a budget, and then you need results. You can’t have a vision that is different from the strategy, and a strategy that is different from the budget, and a budget that is completely different from the results.”
“Let’s not forget, this year will be another record year for the industry. Even though the European market is struggling, even though the growth in the U.S. is not at the level that everybody is expecting, compared to 2011, our forecast is that there will be 3 to 4 million additional cars produced and sold on the planet in 2012. Obviously, the growth will not be balanced. There will be strong growth in China, there will be strong growth in the new emerging markets, you will have growth in the U.S. no matter what, Japan is also going to see a growing market. Europe will be decreasing, but overall, it will be a good year for the industry, particularly if you are well positioned to contribute to the growth where it is taking place.”
“The companies that had the most resilience in the crisis that started in 2008 are the companies with a heavy presence in the emerging markets. Companies that are mainly focused on Europe, or mainly on the U.S., they struggle more than companies that are in China, in Russia, in India, in Brazil. Those BRICs are not emerging markets anymore. They are emerged markets. They are some of the biggest markets in the world already. The new emerging markets are Indonesia, Vietnam, some countries in Africa, some countries in the Middle East. This is where you need to be positioned, if you have a car company. Not being there is the biggest risk.”
“We are in the car business. We are not in politics. Countries have their rules, and if you want to do business in a country, you need to abide by its rules. If you don’t like the rules – easy. Don’t do business there.”
(The last statement was made during a Q&A session at the Beijing Auto Show. A reporter wanted a statement about China’s policies. When I came back to the hotel, the audio file was wiped off the recorder. Instead of suspecting foul play, I blame my own stupidity. The statement remains permanently recorded in my head – in a paraphrased way.)