Category: People

By on February 23, 2017

Carlos Ghosn (Image: Nissan)

Carlos Ghosn, the aggressive figurehead who brought a nosediving Nissan back from the brink, is stepping down as CEO after 16 years on the job.

The industry titan will remain CEO of Renault, where he staged a similar turnaround, and will continue to serve as chairman of Nissan, Renault and lowly Mitsubishi — the latter company being added to the alliance last year. Apparently, the decision to step down was prompted by Mitsubishi’s deeply-ingrained woes. In order to work some Nissan-style magic on the struggling automaker, Ghosn needed to hand over the reins.

Meanwhile, a man who stuck with Nissan for 40 years has seen his loyalty pay off. Read More >

By on February 21, 2017

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Captain of industry John Mendel is retiring as the executive vice president of American Honda’s sales division this April, following ten years of service to the company. Mendel is probably best-known for ensuring that Honda and Acura’s marketing and sales focus remained on North America’s retail markets, not fleets.

Also retiring this spring is Honda Canada’s current president and 42-year company veteran, Jerry Chenkin. Filling the vacuum created in Chenkin’s absence is Dave Gardner, currently senior vice president and future president. Gardner will assume the role of president and provide direct oversight for the automotive and motorcycle divisions, power equipment, ATV, and small engine businesses.  Read More >

By on February 18, 2017

Honda dealer sign

It’s been a rough week at Frank Ancona Honda of Olathe, Kansas.

The family-owned dealership, in operation just southwest of Kansas City since 1961, has successfully weathered all of the storms that periodically pummel dealers of all stripes.

Then, last weekend, a body discovered on the banks of Missouri’s Big River — about a five-hour drive to the east — gave the dealership the kind of attention that no business wants. The corpse, which had a bullet hole in its head, also had a name: Frank Ancona.

No, the founder of Frank Ancona Honda is still alive and well at 85. But much to his dismay, the Frank Ancona discovered by the Big River was none other than the 51-year-old imperial wizard of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Read More >

By on February 17, 2017

Scott Pruitt (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

The Environmental Protection Agency has a new administrator.

Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general and President Donald Trump’s first choice for the role, was confirmed today following a 52-46 Senate vote that fell mainly along party lines, with some exceptions.

In an odd twist of fate, the man who once sued the EPA multiple times is now the man running it. Read More >

By on February 17, 2017

General Motors #AMERICA

Before the end of the 1980s, disenchanted drivers were voting with their wallets in ever greater numbers. Family sedan buyers, burned by the quality control issues of the late 1970s, turned their attention to the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, while German automakers increasingly carved off a larger slice of the premium segment pie.

In many cases, the buyers who turned their backs on domestic vehicles stayed in their new camp for years, buying another, and then another Japanese or German car. Luring them back remains a difficult task, as stigma often fades at a slower rate than quality improves.

“Buy American” campaigns are nothing new, but President Donald Trump’s ascent to the Oval Office has spurred a newfound focus on the health of the Detroit Three automakers. In a bid to bolster that health, the United Auto Workers union is on the verge of telling you to drive past all those import dealers.

Come home to America. Read More >

By on February 15, 2017

Land Rover Defender (wikimedia commons)

Last year, we reported on how British chemical company Ineos had approached Land Rover, asking for permission to build a copy of its now-deceased Defender. Land Rover responded unequivocally, stating, “There is no way this is happening.”

Hold on, not so fast there.

Read More >

By on February 11, 2017

Elon Musk + Tesla Model S Circa 2011

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk knows a unionized workforce would add another variable to his lofty, carefully crafted production plans, and an unpredictable one at that: labor strife.

Until now, the electric automaker’s top boss has fended off the possibility in a progressive-sounding way, but a simmering unionization movement, which reared its head this week, shows no signs of abating. Since the appearance of a scathing blog post written by a Tesla assembly plant worker, Musk has found himself on the defensive. A paid union agitator, Musk claimed, wrote the post to rile employees. Then the UAW jumped into the fray.

Now, it’s one big battle. Musk likely wishes a recently introduced bill to amend the National Labor Relations Act was on his side. Read More >

By on February 10, 2017

It looks like mustachioed, jeans-loving Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche will have to look elsewhere for a successor to the company throne.

Wolfgang Bernhard, head of Daimler Trucks & Buses, was thought by many a likely candidate to take on the top job once Dr. Z retires. Announced today, Bernhard is stepping down from his post and leaving the company he joined in 1994, even before his contract expires.

Infighting and age could have a lot to do with it. Read More >

By on February 8, 2017

tdiengine

Ferdinand Piëch, former chairman of Volkswagen and grandson of Beetle creator Ferdinand Porsche, is in hot water with his former company.

The ex-chairman resigned in April 2015 — five months before the diesel emissions scandal broke — after the company’s steering committee put his future to a vote. Piëch lost after his rival, then-CEO Martin Winterkorn, saw VW management rally to his side.

A suspiciously hostile divide existed between both men at the time, and recent comments by Piëch may explain why the two doomed executives became such bitter enemies. To say that VW’s supervisory board isn’t happy with his comments would be an understatement. Read More >

By on February 2, 2017

The enduring popularity of the Chevrolet Equinox has led General Motors to some creative manufacturing approaches to keep up with demand. In addition to the crossoverÕs assembly home in Ingersoll, Ontario, GM runs a shuttle system that takes Equinox bodies to Oshawa, Ont., for painting and final production, Image: General Motors Canada

There’s no hurt feelings like a city council’s hurt feelings.

Oshawa, Ontario, home to TTAC’s managing editor and General Motors Canada headquarters, is feeling a little invisible after an invite delivered last June to GM CEO Mary Barra failed to result in a visit.

The invite came at the onset of tense Detroit Three labor contract negotiations, when it seemed like Oshawa’s assembly plant was living on very borrowed time. Ultimately, the plant was granted a reprieve, though the city remains nervous about the long-term viability of the plant and GM’s commitment to it.

After seven months of being the wallflower at the dance, city councilors want some up close and personal face time. Read More >

By on January 27, 2017

Vicente Fox (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

When Mexican President Vicente Fox Quesada left office in 2006 after a six-year stint, he didn’t go quietly into political retirement.

With the advent of social media, the outspoken Fox gained the ability to launch barbs with ease and generally treat politicians like a well-used piñata. His latest target? Take a guess.

Following President Trump’s recent declarations — including a promise to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and a threat to impose a 20 percent border tax on Mexican goods — Fox spoke his mind on the issue, trolling Trump on Twitter and making statements on the U.S. auto industry that won’t get him invited to many parties in Detroit. Read More >

By on January 27, 2017

tesla model-s-rear

The former director of Tesla’s Autopilot program has choice words for his former employer.

Sterling Anderson is being sued by Tesla for stealing confidential information, which he allegedly put to use at a new autonomous vehicle start-up. According to Bloomberg, the electric automaker isn’t happy about his attempts to hire away Tesla employees, either.

In his response to the suit, Anderson doesn’t have very nice things to say about Tesla. Read More >

By on January 27, 2017

Martin Winterkorn, Image: Volkswagen AG [CC BY 3.0]/Wikimedia Commons

German prosecutors say their investigation into Volkswagen’s dirty dealings now includes the company’s former CEO, Martin Winterkorn.

The long-running probe into the diesel emissions scandal recently expanded from 21 suspects to 37, Reuters reports, placing Winterkorn solidly under the microscope. Winterkorn stepped down just days after the scandal went public in September 2015.

The former top boss recently emerged from the shadows to tell a German committee he knew nothing of the decade-long conspiracy under his watch, though prosecutors suspect he may have known more than that. Read More >

By on January 26, 2017

VW logo

Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt, Volkswagen Group AG’s compliance chief, is leaving the company after disputes with VW’s senior management regarding her responsibilities. Those duties primarily revolve around ensuring the automaker adheres to regulatory requirements — something Volkswagen has had a difficult time with as of late.

After only a year with the company, Volkswagen confirmed Hohmann-Dennhardt will be leaving at the end of this month. According to an official statement, her exodus is “due to differences in their understanding of responsibilities and future operating structures within the function she leads.”

Considering her role on the supervisory board consisted wholly of seeing Volkswagen through the devastating emissions crisis while improving its image and ensuring it did not commit anymore egregious unlawful acts, you have to wonder what those differences in understanding entailed.  Read More >

By on January 25, 2017

Lapo Elkann

Lapo Elkann — rich person and grandson of late Fiat patriarch Gianni Agnelli — will not face charges for a November incident in which he told a family representative and the New York Police Department that he had been kidnapped.

Law enforcement sources claimed that Elkann had spent last Thanksgiving snorting cocaine, smoking marijuana, and drinking heavily with a 29-year-old escort, believing the kidnapping to be a ploy to acquire money to pay for the bender.  Read More >

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