Shanghai Autoshow: The CEO Dilemma

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
shanghai autoshow the ceo dilemma


Due to some adroit planning, important auto shows in the world’s largest market and the world’s second largest fall in the same week this year. CEOs of the world’s top automakers have a dilemma: Shanghai or New York?

European and Japanese carmakers know where their bread is buttered. They went to China. A massive show of police force was the first indicator that today would be a day of very important people..

Some last glitches needed to be fixed at the Volkswagen display. Did anyone say that there are electrical problems?

The brand was also polished. After that, everything was a go.

This morning, one of the first press conferences was given by Volkswagen. The teleprompter gave away who would be coming.

CEO Martin Winterkorn and his board were in full attendance in China. Here, Winterkorn is getting last instructions for the speech.

Which were promptly ignored. The brief was. “Smile!”

R&D Chef Ulrich Hackenberg presented the new New Beetle.

Volkswagen China’s sales chief Soh Weiming also had his appearance – on a concept for an electric scooter. As if China doesn’t have enough of the things. But possibly, Volkswagen wants to break into that market also. Billions of units could be sold.

“Come on, Uli, let’s go over to Audi.”

At Audi, something seemed in need of an unveiling.

A little more than planned was unveiled, but you needed a motor drive to spot the wardrobe malfunction.

It’s the Audi Q3. Finally.

Presented by Audi CEO Rupert Stadler.

Nissan sent its CEO, Carlos Ghosn.

Renault sent its CEO, Carlos Ghosn (here photographed when visiting the Nissan booth.)

On Monday, The Nikkei [sub] was still wondering whether Akio Toyoda would go to Shanghai. Not because they thought he would go to New York. The Nikkei gathered Toyota’s CEO might be busy managing the aftermath of the March 11 tsunami. And indeed, “I was conflicted about my trip to China right up until the time of my departure,” Toyoda said.

However, the Shanghai tour became a little dangerous for Toyoda. After a perilous climb on top of the roof on the Reiz concept …

… Toyota slipped and nearly crashed to the floor, would two Chinese ladies, who apparently are as strong as they are beautiful, not have intervened.

And the Americans? Let’s just say that Ford sent its Asia and Pacific Chief Joe Hinrichs.

Along with Ford’s Director for Global Electrification, Nancy Gioia.

So now you know how the CEO dilemma was handled at select carmakers. This report does not claim completeness. At the Shanghai Auto Show, sometimes ten press events are scheduled in parallel. The lone reporter has to perform triage and pick one. Speaking of reporters: At an intimate round-table, hosted by Toyota for select media, an American reporter asked whether Toyoda would go to the New York Auto Show. Masami Doi, General Manager for global communications, bit his tongue and answered: “We don’t comment on the CEO’s travel schedule.”

i Q3. Finally.

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  • Robert.Walter Robert.Walter on Apr 19, 2011

    Never quite fit the definition of dilemma, which are two equally appealing choices. Thesedays, there is really only one choice between Shanghai and NYC, and that's China. No better evidence of the emerging new world order. Re wardrobe malfunction at q3 premere, I'll bet in a few days, there willbe video of that on you tube.

    • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on Apr 19, 2011

      I bet Toyoda falling into the hands of the Chinese booth babes will be first. A lot of cameras were pointing in his direction when it happened.

  • Tekdemon Tekdemon on Apr 19, 2011

    I'm not sure that fall was accidental! Who would mind falling into the arms of two beautiful booth babes....

  • Brandon What is a "city crossover"?
  • Tassos What was the last time we had any good news from Ford? (or GM for that matter?)The last one was probably when Alan Mulally was CEO. Were you even born back then?Fields was a total disaster, then they go hire this clown from Toyota's PR department, the current Ford CEO, Fart-ley or something.He claims to be an auto enthusiast too (unlike Mary Barra who is even worse, but of course always forgiven, as she is the proud owner of a set of female genitals.
  • Tassos I know some would want to own a collectible Mustang. (sure as hell not me. This crappy 'secretary's car' (that was exactly its intended buying demo) was as sophisticated (transl. : CRUDE) as the FLintstone's mobile. Solid Real Axle? Are you effing kidding me?There is a huge number of these around, so they are neither expensive nor valuable.WHen it came out, it was $2,000 or so new. A colleague bought a recent one with the stupid Ecoboost which also promised good fuel economy. He drives a hard bargain and spends time shopping and I remember he paid $37k ( the fool only bought domestic crap, but luckily he is good with his hands and can fix lots of stuff on them).He told me that the alleged fuel economy is obtained only if you drive it like a VERY old lady. WHich defeats the purpose, of course, you might as well buy a used Toyota Yaris (not even a Corolla).
  • MRF 95 T-Bird Back when the Corolla consisted of a wide range of body styles. This wagon, both four door and two door sedans, a shooting brake like three door hatch as well as a sports coupe hatchback. All of which were on the popular cars on the road where I resided.
  • Wjtinfwb Jeez... I've got 3 Ford's and have been a defender due to my overall good experiences but this is getting hard to defend. Thinking the product durability testing that used to take months to rack up 100k miles or more is being replaced with computer simulations that just aren't causing these real-world issues to pop up. More time at the proving ground please...
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