The Truth About Cars » roger penske The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 29 Jul 2014 10:00:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » roger penske Roger Penske: No Thanks, I’m Having Too Much Fun To Give That Up To Run General Motors Sat, 01 Jun 2013 14:07:40 +0000 IMG_0030

Roger Penske talks with recent Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan as Jim Campbell (L), head of performance and motorsports for GM, and Mark Reuss (R), GM president for North America, look on.

Sometimes things just work out. I probably would have gone to the media luncheon for the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix yesterday anyway but when I saw that Roger Penske was one of the people who’d be there, along with Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan and other Indycar, Grand Am Rolex and Pirelli Challenge series drivers, as well Jim Campbell and Mark Reuss from GM, I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to ask Penske a question that’s been on my mind. Just about every time there’s some kind of high level executive position around Detroit that’s unfilled or about to go unfilled, Penske’s name comes up as a suggestion. Not everything he touches succeeds, (c.f. smart cars in the U.S.) so he doesn’t have a complete Midas touch, but most of his ventures have done well, some exceptionally so. You can’t say that he’s not a competent manager of businesses and people or that he hasn’t succeeded in some highly competitive situations. I wanted to know if Roger was willing to take the highest profile executive position in Detroit.

The luncheon was at the Rattlesnake Club, right across from the Detroit River Walk, where cars representing the three racing series running on Belle Isle this weekend were sitting with the river as a beautiful backdrop and the various personages were available for photo ops and interviews before the speeches and food. As I was walking from my car to the River Walk, who should be exiting from an SUV but Roger Penske himself, with no entourage.

I asked him, “Roger, would you take the job if they offered it to you?”

“What job is that?” he replied

“Running General Motors.”

“No. I’m too old,” he laughed, “besides, I’m having too much fun doing what I’m doing.”

Then he went on, “I think that they’re well situated with Akerson…”

Since Dan Akerson has many detractors saying that he’s not up to the job, a placeholder, or worse, I was surprised at what at first sounded like an endorsement of Lt. Dan, from Penske, then “the captain” continued, “… and their succession plan.”

Then we crossed Atwater Street and I watched Penske go greet one of the people likely to be on the short list to replace Akerson when he retires within the next couple of years, Mark Reuss, GM’s head of North American operations.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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LaSorda Starts Venture Capital Fund With Roger Penske. Kinda, Sorda Thu, 23 May 2013 16:41:10 +0000 La Sorda with Wagoner and Mualally - Picture courtesy

Those were the days, my friends: LaSorda, Wagoner, Mulally

Tom LaSorda,  formerly CEO of Chrysler and before that a key man at GM, will lose a lot of  money when Fisker goes down and/or bankrupt and/or is sold for pennies on the dollar. The man has a plan to recoup his losses: He started his own venture fund with racing and auto dealing magnate Roger Penske, as Reuters has it.

LaSorda left Chrysler after its 2009 bankruptcy. He later started a venture capital fund called Stage 2 Innovations with Manoj Bhargava of 5-Hour Energy drink fame. That deal brought LaSorda to Fisker. LaSorda invested in the startup, only to become CEO of Fisker, tasked with reorganizing the already teetering company. Six months later, LaSorda was out, and Tony Posawatz of Volt fame was in. That didn’t help either.

LaSorda’s new fund is called  IncWell LP, and it “will provide initial investments ranging from $50,000 and $250,000. IncWell has “strong interests” in the areas of clean energy, medical, healthcare, transportation and information applications,” says Reuters.

In the VC biz, initial investments of $50,000 to $250,000 are seen as bupkis and barely cover the lawyers’ fees for the stockholder memo. A typical angel investment in a small garage-type technology startup is a few millions. Venture capital funds can be a great business. As my friend, who runs such a fund, and who invested a few million in a company which we then gloriously ran into the ground liked to tell me: “Don’t worry, Bertel, if it goes wrong. Typically, one out of 15 goes right. And that brings in a lot of money.”

Also, the trick seems to be to find other people who invest into your fund. Then, you can’t lose at all.

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Businesses Band Together To Donate $8 Million Worth Of Vehicles For Detroit Tue, 26 Mar 2013 13:35:59 +0000

Over 100 emergency vehicles will hit Detroit’s streets in the next few months, including 23 ambulances and more than 100 police cruisiers, thanks to a coalition of private sector donors that pitched in for the vehicles.

The Detroit Free Press reports that companies like Penske, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Quicken Loans, the Kresge Foundation, and Platinum Equity all chipped in to help buy the new vehicles for the city. The Big Three automakers also lent a hand, providing Ford Taurus, Dodge Charger and Chevrolet Caprice police vehicles.

Interestingly, the city will not be the official owners of the vehicles, nor will they be responsible for their maintenance. None other than Roger Penske said that the vehicles would be outfitted with “top of the line” equipment and would be ready for duty in the next few months.

Detroit is now essentially controlled by state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr, after Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder asked him to help step in and manage Detroit’s finances. Orr previously worked on the 2009 Chrysler bankruptcy.

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