Observers knew that something was in the bush when Ford scheduled a conference call for today 9 a.m. Eastern. Hosted by Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr., the call promised to be about more than October sales. It was about Ford’s future CEO. Read More >
In Part 1 of our talk with Infiniti CEO Johan de Nysschen at his new office at the Infiniti world headquarters in Hong Kong, we talked about his new job, about new directions for Infiniti, and for the brand. In the second part, we talk about the new cars Infiniti will bring, where they will be made, what engines will be in them, and what deNysschen thinks about the plan to sell half a million by 2016.
In April at the Beijing auto show, Nissan’s Andy Palmer said he wants to see 500,000 Infiniti sold by 2016, while conceding that this is “an aggressive target.” In the last fiscal year, Infiniti sold 141,000 units worldwide, 105,000 of those in the Americas. In carefully crafted words, de Nysschen explains what he thinks of the 500,000 unit target: Read More >
Panic at RenCen. It’s not that people are leaving GM. It’s how they leave. Two weeks ago, Opel chief Karl-Friedrich Stracke presented numbers to Dan Akerson. Akerson fires him. Opel gets two interim chiefs in a week. Last Thursday, Opel’s new design chief Dave Lyon doesn’t even start his job. Today, media in the U.S. and Germany report that Lyon had been escorted from the building and to a waiting car by GM’s head of personnel. A day later, global marketing chief Joel Ewanick suddenly leaves. Instead of wishing him all the best for his future endeavors, GM spokesman Greg Martin puts a knife in Ewanick’s back: “He failed to meet the expectations the company has of an employee.” Read More >
Managers of premium auto brands keep asking themselves (and sometime me): “What is the secret of Audi’s success?” 30 years ago, Audi had an image worse than Opel. Last April, Audi outsold Bavarian rival BMW for the first time on a global basis. These days, any large automaker that has a luxury division seeks to emulate Audi’s success. Now, Nissan’s Infiniti could be one step closer to getting its hands in Audi’s elusive secret sauce. They hired one of Audi’s key men. Read More >
Today, I happened to be at Toyota’s Tokyo headquarters in order to personally get to the bottom of numbers nobody seems to care about. There was a minor riot in the usually zen-like lobby of 1-4-18 Koraku, Bunkyo-ku. TTAC was there to investigate … Read More >
Bill Cosby’s farewell to Carroll Shelby.
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. Read More >
Automotive News Europe [sub] spotted a new trend in Tokyo: Daredevil CEOs:
“On Nov. 27, Toyota boss Akio Toyoda wowed a crowd of spectators in Japan by racing through a lineup of Lexus LFA supercars in the new Toyota 86 sporty coupe. One day later, Honda CEO Takanobu Ito hopped on a Honda MotoGP racing motorcycle and blasted around the company’s Twin Ring Motegi racetrack.” Read More >
In Once Upon a Car, Bill Vlasic artfully employs quotes gained through over 100 interviews to make readers feel like they’re “in the room.” Assuming that Vlasic has accurately reproduced the original dialogues, we learn how senior executives really talk… (Warning: Graphic language after the jump.) Read More >
A TTAC tipster sent us a Teknikens Värld interview with Saab’s long-suffering would-be rescuer, Victor Muller, in which the eternal Saabtimist seems ready to admit defeat. In essence, he admits that GM is unlikely to ever approve a plan involving Chinese firms, that the Chinese firms are throwing “money into a black hole” and that all the previous plans are off the table. Of course, Muller does seem to think that some kind of rescue may yet be possible, but he admits
If I doze off Saab would disappear in an instant
If Muller is losing faith, and doesn’t even have a hairbrained scenario to hype, it seems that the end may well be near. But then, the whole rescue of Saab is beginning to be eclipsed by questions about Muller’s erstwhile partner, Vladimir Antonov, who was recently bailed out of British jail, where he was being held on charges of embezzlement and document forgery. But first, to the Muller interview…
Hear about two high-ranking Mitsubishi execs leaving their positions simultaneously, and you might be forgiven for thinking “rats leaving the sinking ship.” After all, Mitsubishihas been in deep decline for the better part of a decade, as sales have fallen from a peak of over 345,000 units in 2002. But in actuality, Mitsubishi is having something of a turnaround year. Sales are up 51% year-over-year, and volume crossed the 70k mark in October, guaranteeing the brand its best year of sales since 2008. So, why did VP of marketing and product strategy Gregory Adams, and vice president of corporate planning and incentives Mike Krebs leave Mitsu ”to pursue other opportunities”? Automotive News [sub] offers few answers beyond pointing out that Krebs is a ten-year veteran of Mitsubishi Motors America, while Adams joined in 2010. Why the two decided to jump ship (or were forced out) at the same time remains a mystery for now…
From the first part of this clip from Bob Lutz and Elon Musk’s recent appearance on the Charlie Rose, in which the two discuss “The CO2 Thing,” you might guess that the two are at odds with each other. After all, Bob’s the gruff, “Global Warming is Bullshit” type and Elon is the sensitive, change-the-world type. But by the end of this brief clip, the two industry mavericks are falling all over themselves with mutual admiration. But then, both have learned from the other (however indirectly) over the past few years: Lutz’s legacy of the Volt was in part motivated by Musk’s endeavor, and Musk himself has a lot more respect for Detroit’s “old school” manufacturing know-how now that his firm is actually trying to build its own cars in volume. It’s a study in contrasts watching these two iconoclasts from such separate worlds going at it… and yet you get the distinct impression that these two guys aren’t quite as different as you might think.
Watch the complete Musk-Lutz interview here.
Watch Lutz’s one-on-one interview here.
If the American manufacturers had gone years ago to the government and said, ‘Listen, we have a huge project’ – electric cars, for instance, the government could at least have studied it. But they never tried.
Take the Chevrolet Volt (extended-range electric vehicle launched in 2010). Without government help, at least in the developmental stages in which certain economies of scale must be reached, it is too expensive. It’s just another example of the American industry being too late. They have missed many trends.
Because the sign of an innovative automaker is entanglement with the government… just ask Blain’s compatriots (and former colleagues) at Renault! Oh, and incidentally, Detroit did approach the government for help developing green cars back in the 1990s and managed to waste a cool billion dollars building three prototypes (see: PNGV). But there I go taking Blain at his word… when he’s already walking back his nonsensical comments.
Read More >
The German business paper Handelsblatt reports that Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Ernst Lieb, a 36-year Daimler veteran, has been fired for “serious and repeated” violations of the company’s internal finance compliance rules. Per the Dow Jones [via FoxBusiness] translation,
Lieb is said to have remodeled his house in New York at the expense of Daimler and settled personal golf club contributions through the company, the executive is reported as saying.
Lieb has also been accused of providing favors at the company’s expense, such as renting cars in exchange for flight upgrades