Category: People

By on May 22, 2017

[Image: Ford]

Ahead of a news conference at Ford’s Dearborn headquarters, the automaker has announced Jim Hackett as its new president and chief executive officer.

The news follows last night’s report of the ouster of former CEO Mark Fields by the company’s board of directors. In an official release, Ford refers to Hackett as a “transformational business leader” who will succeed the “retiring” Fields.

Before being named chairman of the newly created subsidiary Ford Smart Mobility LLC in March of 2016, Hackett, 62, served on the company’s board for three years and was a member of its Sustainability and Innovation committee. Prior to joining Ford, the executive gained accolades for his turnaround of American office furniture company Steelcase, where he spent 30 years. As interim director of athletics at the University of Michigan, Hackett lured Jim Harbaugh away from the San Francisco 49ers to serve as head football coach.

Hackett’s job won’t be an easy one. Besides guiding the company through a disruptive era of new technologies, the new CEO must reverse Ford’s flagging fortunes. Read More >

By on May 22, 2017

Mark Fields, Image: Ford Motor Co.

Mark Fields has reportedly been fired from his position as CEO of Ford Motor Company, to be replaced by a man he appointed as head of the automaker’s mobility subsidiary.

According to Forbes, the company will announce the appointment of Jim Hackett as CEO this morning, part of a broader shakeup of the company’s upper ranks. Hackett, former CEO of Steelcase, served on the automaker’s board for three years before being named head of Ford Smart Mobility LLC in March, 2016.

Fields, a 28-year Ford veteran who replaced Alan Mulally in mid-2014, was reportedly booted by the company’s board amid a continued decline in share values. Two weeks ago, the CEO was grilled by board members and shareholders alike over the direction he has taken the company. Read More >

By on May 18, 2017

Tesla Factory California

In the face of what it describes as “a concerted and professional media push intended to raise questions about safety at Tesla,” the California electric automaker has attempted to counter an apparent unionization tactic.

In a May 14th blog post titled “Creating the Safest Car Factory in the World,” Tesla said it was contacted by numerous media sources claiming to have spoken with similar workers at its Fremont assembly plant. The automaker sees this as an attempt by both the United Auto Workers and Tesla employees intent on organizing the plant to use instances of workplace injury as an organizational tool.

This morning, the story Tesla was working to get ahead of landed in The Guardian. Read More >

By on May 17, 2017

Mark-Fields (Image: Ford)

A day after media reports described an impending mass layoff of Ford Motor Company employees, the automaker has clarified who gets to keep a job.

While the scale of the job reductions is less than previously reported — a 10-percent global workforce reduction is off the table — Ford does plan to cull its salaried North American and Asian workforce by one-tenth in a bid to cut costs.

The move comes after last week’s tense shareholders meeting during which investors and analysts grilled CEO Mark Fields over the company’s sinking market valuation. Since taking the helm three years ago, Fields has seen the company’s stock price sink by roughly 40 percent. Hourly workers aren’t affected by the plan, though the same can’t be said for white-collar employees. Read More >

By on May 16, 2017

2016 Hyundai Sonata, Image: Hyundai Motor America

He lost his job for it, but Kim Gwang-ho, a 25-year Hyundai veteran at the automaker’s Seoul, South Korea facility, knew he needed to speak out.

The engineer blew the whistle on his employer, reporting the automaker to both South Korean and American officials after uncovering evidence Hyundai was covering up a defect in several of its models. Kim even published internal documents to back up his claim.

Kim, 55, was fired from his job, but authorities took note. As a result, a further 240,000 vehicles — totaling 12 models — have been added to a recall already 1.4 million strong. Read More >

By on May 10, 2017

toyota camry

Even as it develops efficient new platforms and streamlines its operation where it can, Toyota finds itself against the ropes as a falling yen and rising costs sends profits tumbling. Its end-of-fiscal-year financial statements, released today, are enough to send bean counters to the medicine cabinet in search of antacid, while the company’s president warns of more trouble ahead.

To Akio Toyoda, the increasingly gloomy picture has all the hallmarks of a failing sports team. Read More >

By on April 26, 2017

red light traffic signal (Matthias Ripp/Flickr]

How far would you go in fighting a red light camera ticket? It’s possible that a few motorists who feel especially victimized might schedule an appearance at the courthouse to protest the photographic evidence, but surely no one would spend four years on the case.

Not Mats Järlström, a Beaverton, Oregon resident and man of principle.

Järlström, whose name sounds like a delicious, smoky cheese, made headlines in 2013 when he filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in protest of his wife’s red light camera ticket, arguing that the amber light cycle at the intersection wasn’t suitably lengthy. Now, the stubborn man has his name on another lawsuit — this one against the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying.

Mr. Järlström is not an engineer, the board claims. Not so fast, says the dogged litigant. Read More >

By on April 24, 2017

Toyota Supra

In February, a Texas Toyota dealership and The Genesis Center of Kaufman County joined forces to raffle off a fully restored 1994 Toyota Supra Twin Turbo. Donated by a local resident battling cancer, the entirety of the proceeds from the draw were designated specifically to help fund the center. Genesis is a faith-based shelter which also provides job placement, parenting classes, financial management programs, spiritual counselling, material needs, and medical referrals to women and children in crisis. It is funded largely through the church or via direct donations.

All in all, the dealership managed to raise more than $50,000 for the center. However, when Rebecca Rawl was announced as the winner of the raffle in April, many stated that the name was suspiciously close to that of the wife of sales manager Danny Rawls. Toyota of Rockwall was quick to rectify its mistake, specifying that the name given had been a mistake and “Rebecca Rawls” had in fact been the lottery winner.

As you can imagine, this did not go over well.

Read More >

By on April 18, 2017

Snowstorm/Tesla Motors Club forum]

Earlier this month, we detailed the plight of a Toronto-area man whose newly delivered Tesla Model S 90D — a six-figure vehicle boasting cutting-edge technology — arrived from the factory with a sizable crack in the A-pillar.

Because the A-pillar forms part of a one-piece aluminum side member, the defect represented a structural fault that couldn’t be ignored. It wasn’t the kind of PR Tesla wanted, especially as it ramps up production (and stock value) ahead of the Model 3 launch, and it certainly wasn’t something a first-time owner and admitted Tesla fan wanted to find.

After airing his story on the Tesla Motors Club forum, the owner provided TTAC with updates on his vehicle’s status. Read More >

By on April 17, 2017

car-saviors-still

Automotive television has developed some extremely bad habits, the worst of which is creating false reality show-style drama among characters with no appreciable personalities. Build shows are the absolute worst for this, yet the agreed-upon recipe seems to be to force one-dimensional characters to argue with one another, intercut with B-roll footage of people working on a car. Rinse and repeat.

While shows like Top Gear and The Grand Tour manage to avoid this problem — by providing entertaining short films, product reviews, and humorous banter — most programs where the host touches a wrench becomes painful to watch within the first few minutes. There are, of course, mainstream exceptions. Mighty Car Mods and RoadKill are both project-oriented shows that remain enjoyable due the presenters’ enthusiasm, authenticity, and willingness to fail. However, neither of those examples exist on a major television network and persist as online-only affairs. And there isn’t really a build show on cable that anyone should consider on par with either.

However, there could be a contender when the Discovery Channel airs its first episode of Car Saviors tonight.  Read More >

By on April 3, 2017

Honda dealer sign

After retiring on April 1 following 13 years at American Honda, former executive vice president John Mendel isn’t fading quietly into obscurity.

Sure, he plans to form a distillery business with his sons — who doesn’t? — but retired auto executives rarely take both feet out of their former world. So, it doesn’t come as a shock that Mendel is poised to join the board of directors at the car shopping website TrueCar. Read More >

By on March 28, 2017

enzo ferari

Italian investigators said on Tuesday that they had prevented a criminal plot to steal the body of automotive legend and Formula One racing pioneer Enzo Ferrari. The scheme involved using two cars and a van, breaking into San Cataldo cemetery, absconding with the corpse, and then holding it for ransom.

Just imagine the incredible movie that would have resulted from the heist had the police not immediately foiled the plan. It would have equal parts The Italian Job and Weekend at Bernie’s.

Così buono.  Read More >

By on March 21, 2017

Uber (freestocks.org/Flickr)

Uber’s president Jeff Jones is quitting the car-hailing business after a brief six-month stretch.

Jones’ choice of a swift departure is essentially down to the company’s controversy laden decisions and apparent degenerate corporate culture. In addition to allegations of widespread sexual harassment, Uber has managed to routinely anger local governments by ignoring autonomous testing laws and by employing algorithms that denied service to potential investigators, regulators, or law enforcement officials. It’s also been accused of property theft, and CEO Travis Kalanick is exhibiting behavior unlikely to win people over.

It’s a real shit show.

Read More >

By on March 21, 2017

marchionne looking pleased

Sergio’s waiting by the phone. Waiting for someone to call him up and tell him he’s not alone. (Our apologies to Soul Asylum – Ed.)

It’s not our fault Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne’s corporate life resembles a game of Mystery Date. That’s just the way it is for an automaker on the prowl for a partner. After having its advances repeatedly rebuffed by General Motors, FCA has now latched onto Volkswagen as a potential suitor — but the merger dance hasn’t been a smooth one.

After some cattiness on VW’s part, it seems the eternally — and perhaps naïvely — optimistic Marchionne’s hopes are once again up. He’s anticipating a call. Read More >

By on March 17, 2017

piech

One of the preeminent figures within the European automotive industry is looking to get out of the family business. The former paterfamilias of Volkswagen AG, Ferdinand Piech, is looking to dump his stake of Porsche Automobil Holding SE and sever his remaining ties to VW. Piech’s shares would remain within the Porsche-Piech family — allowing them to keep control of Volkswagen Group — but Ferdinand would be out of the game as a majority stakeholder.

Piech has been at odds with his relatives after suggesting that Wolfgang Porsche and several other VW supervisory board members had been aware of Volkswagen’s emissions cheating much earlier than they claimed. Sources close to the family, whose members are apparently outraged, have stated that the Porsche-Piech gang sought to replace him at the table of Porsche Holdings ever since.  Read More >

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