With Carlos Ghosn Down By The Waterfront

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
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with carlos ghosn down by the waterfront

One of the pillars of public relations is „do good and tell the world about it.“

Not in Japan. Here, the rule goes “do good and keep your mouth shut.” Hard-hit Japanese carmakers have been at the forefront of aid to tsunami-ravaged areas. Toyota for instance sent some 100 tractor-trailer loads of fuel, food and other necessities up north to Tohoku – in utter secrecy. Honda said they donated 1,000 generators and 5,000 gas canisters, and never talked again about the bulk of the help.

None of the CEOs of large car companies are seen on TV shaking hands of dealers and donating cars to the cause. This leaves a void, and nature abhors a vacuum. Nature does, and Carlos Ghosn.

Ghosn is the only CEO of a Japanese carmaker that is pressing the flesh and is giving pep talks to factory staff with cameras rolling. And he does this to great effect. When the large insurance company AXA polled “after the earthquake in Japan, which celebrity should take the lead?“ Japanese did put two foreigners on their list of dream candidates:

Barack Obama and Carlos Ghosn.

RankCelebrityJob1Takeshi KitanoComedian and movie director2Junichiro KoizumiFormer Prime Minister of Japan3Shintaro IshiharaMayor of Tokyo4Son MasayoshiCEO Softbank5Toru HashimotoMayor of Osaka6Hideo HigashikokubaruFormer game show host and Governor of Miyazaki7Carlos GhosnCEO of Nissan and Renault8Ichiro OzawaDeposed president of the Democratic Party of Japan9Barack ObamaPresident of the United States of America10Akira IkegamiTV reporter

Ghosn handily beats Obama when it comes to saving a country that is in real trouble.

Of course, with a director who is famous for his Yakuza movies in first place, this ranking gives you a little to think about.

Today, Carlos Ghosn was in town and decided to hit the waterfront. At 8 in the morning.

Nissan’s Honmoku Wharf is their largest logistics hub, about 10 km (6.2 miles) from Nissan’s global headquarters in Yokohama.

The earthquake had caused only minor damage. But it butchered Japan’s electrical grid. And boy, was it ever hot today.

As you can tell, today is Saturday. Nissan, and for that matter most of the Japanese auto industry, is now taking Thursday’s and Friday’s off and works instead over the weekend. The idea is to spread peak power usage out. It seems to work. Friday and Saturday, the digital mercury reached 33 degrees centigrade (91 F), and even at peak time, we still had 9 percent of our available power left. Of course, it’s not just the auto industry that is saving power. Everybody is. Saving power has turned into a national obsession. Even the Japanese hairdresser association got in on the act and recommends pageboy haircuts for the ladies, because it’s cooler and uses less power for the hairdryer.

Ghosn wasn’t in a good mood today.

And the note that was shown to him did not seem to lift his spirits.

“Oh yeah?”

“It’s shelves. What’s so funny about shelves?”

Q&A with the media.

Other CEOs play the media like a fiddle.

Ghosn plays the media like a symphony orchestra.

“I heard that, Bertel. If you keep that up, you won’t be invited back.”

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Carsofchaos Bike lanes are in use what maybe 10 to 12 hours a day? The other periods of the day they aren't in use whatsoever. A bike can carry one person and a vehicle can carry multiple people. It's very simple math to figure out that a bike lane in no way shape or form will handle more people than cars will.The bigger issue is double parked delivery vehicles. They are often double parked and taking up lanes because there are cars parked on the curb. You combine that with a bike lane and pedestrians Crossing wherever they feel like it and it's a recipe for disaster. I think if we could just go back to two lanes of traffic things would flow much better. I started coming to the city in 2003 before a lot of these bike lanes were implemented and the traffic is definitely much worse now than it was back then. Sadly at this point I don't really think there is a solution but I can guarantee that congestion pricing will not fix this problem.
  • Charles When I lived in Los Angeles I saw a 9-5 a few times and instanly admired the sweeping low slug aerodynamic jet tech influenced lines and all that beautiful glass. The car was very different from what I expected from a Saab even though the 900 Turbo was nice. A casual lady friend had a Saab Sonnet, never drove or rode in it but nonetheless chilled my enthusiasm and I eventually forgot about Saabs. In the following years I have had seven Mercedes's, three or four Jaguars even two Daimlers both the 250 V-8 and the massive and powerful Majestic Major. Daily drivers of a brand new 300ZX 2+2 and Lincolns, plus a few diesel trucks. Having moved to my big farm in central New York, trucks and SUV's are the standard, even though I have a Mercedes S500 in one of my barns. Due to circumstances with my Ford Explorer and needing a second driver I found the 2006 9-5 locally. Very little surface rust, none undercarriage, original owner, garage kept, wife driver and all the original literature and a ton of paid receipts and history. The car just turned 200,000 miles and I love it. Feels new like I'm back in my Nissan 300ZX with a lot more European class and ready power with the awesome turbo. So fun to drive, the smooth power and torque is incredible! Great price paid to justify going through the car and giving her everything she needs, i.e., new tires, battery, all shocks, struts, control arms, timing chain and rust removable to come, plus more. The problem now is I want to restore it and likely put it in my concrete barn and only drive in good weather. As to the writer, Alex Dykes, I take great exception calling the 9-5 Saab "ugly," finding myself looking back at her beauty and uniqueness. Moreover, I get new looks from others not quite recognizing, like the days out west with my more expensive European cars. There are Saabs eclipsing 300K rourinely and one at a million miles and I believe one car with 500K on the original engine. So clearly, this is a keeper, in love already with my SportCombi. I want to be in that elite club.
  • Marky S. I own the same C.C. XSE Hybrid AWD as in this article, but in Barcelona Red with the black roof. I love my car for its size, packaging, and the fact that it offers both AWD and Hybrid technology together. Visibility is impressive, as is its small turning circle. I consider the C.C. more of a "station wagon" by proportion, rather than an “SUV.” It is fun to drive, with zippy response and perky pick-up. It is a pleasant car to drive and ride in. It is not trying to be a “Butch Off-Roader”, or a cosseting “Luxury Cruiser.” Those are not its goals or purpose. The Corolla Cross XSE Hybrid AWD is a wonderful All-Purpose Car (O.K. – “SUV” if you must hear me say it!) with a combination of all the features it has at a reasonable price.
  • Ernesto Perez There's a line in the movie Armageddon where Bruce Willis says " is this the best idea NASA came up with?". Don't quote me. I'm asking is this the best idea NY came up with? What's next? Charging pedestrians to walk in certain parts of the city? Every year the price for everything gets more expensive and most of the services we pay for gets worse. Obviously more money is not the solution. What we need are better ideas, strategies and inventions. You want to charge drivers in the city - then put tolls on the free bridges like the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. There's always a better way or product. It's just the idiots on top think they know best.
  • Carsofchaos The bike lanes aren't even close to carrying "more than the car lanes replaced". You clearly don't drive in Midtown Manhattan on a daily like I do.