It’s often difficult to keep track of who is heading which automotive conglomerate. Topps never issued a trading card line devoted to industry professionals and there’s no show we’re aware of that catalogs the corporate history of car manufacturing focused entirely on management. Whenever someone is named in a car documentary, it’s only because they were incredibly important to the program or instrumental in seeing the company through a difficult period. That, or they happened to be one of those people’s damned children.
Nepotism is a problem in most industries but the automotive sector seems to be among the worst offenders. While some amount falls within the acceptable parameters rooted in the familial ties of yesteryear, when these businesses were much smaller entities, plenty of placements seem designed to keep wealthy offspring occupied through adulthood. It’s probably a sweet gig if you can get it but the phenomenon itself makes it difficult to determine which blood-related hires are placeholder people and who’s the genuine article.
For example, Hyundai Motor Group has just appointed Eui-Sun Chung (49) as its new chairman. He will be succeeding his father, Mong-Koo Chung (81), and comes from the automaker’s founding family. But there’s plenty of evidence to suggest Chung may actually be the ideal man for the job.
Volkswagen’s supervisory board confirmed its appointment of Hans Dieter Pötsch to its top seat during a scandal rocking the 78-year-old automaker, the company announced Wednesday.
Pötsch said he would continue the investigation as chairman:
I will do my utmost to uncover the full truth of what happened. I am firmly resolved to make my contribution so that Volkswagen can win back the trust of customers, the public, investors and business partners. And I believe my central task is to play my part in guiding Volkswagen towards a successful future.
Volkswagen has a very steep, very tough hill to climb, and Volkswagen’s incoming chairman said the emissions scandal that affects 11 million cars is “a threat to the firm’s viability albeit a surmountable one,” reports Reuters.
Dieter Pötsch, who will soon take the chairman spot at Volkswagen Group AG, described the challenges ahead as an “existence-threatening crisis for the company” during a corporate meeting with employees in Wolfsburg, Germany’s Welt am Sonntag reported.
In order to take on those challenges, Volkswagen needs to fund the repairs of some 11 million vehicles, meaning cuts may be made to the company’s 100 billion euro R&D investment budget that was expected to last until 2018.
A cut in R&D spending is seen as a way to avoid a downgrade of the company’s credit ratings, a source close to the company’s board told Reuters.
The search to replace former Volkswagen chairman Ferdinand Piech may stretch into next year, Reuters is reporting.
Piech left Volkswagen in April after a showdown with Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn, who is still a candidate for the top position. Piech led VW for more than two decades and is the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche.
Interim chairman Berthold Huber is expected to remain in the position at least until the end of 2015.
GM Chairman/CEO Ed Whitacre just announced during GM’s Q2 financial conference call that he will step down as CEO on September 1, and as Chairman at the end of 2010. GM board member Dan Akerson will take over both of Whitacre’s position. Whitacre called Akerson “very involved” and said he expects a smooth transition. Whitacre planned to leave after “returning GM to greatness,” and says that “with a good foundation in place,” he’s ready to leave. The board’s been aware of Whitacre’s plan, and the board was ready to act when Whitacre said he was ready to step down. Akerson says he and Whitacre “share a vision” for GM, so instead of setting an agenda now, he’s focusing on a smooth transition. Akerson noted that Whitacre “had made some management changes” already, and he’s confident in his “deep bench.” The major transition, he says, “is me,” because he needs to gain a day-to-day, operational perspective on the business.