By on October 14, 2020

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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.

(Read More…)

By on January 28, 2020

Renault has appointed the former boss of Volkswagen Group’s Seat brand, Luca de Meo, as its new chief executive. Eager to remove former CEO Thierry Bollore and further distance itself from any ties to Carlos Ghosn, the company has been without an official leader since October.

The automaker made an announcement Tuesday, saying that after a selection process led by the Governance and Compensation Committee, the Board of Directors under the chairmanship of Jean-Dominique Senard had settled on de Meo.

Clotilde Delbos, currently serving as interim CEO, will continue to assume her functions until Luca takes office at the beginning of July. Viewed as the most-likely successor since 2019, de Meo was simply waiting out the non-compete clause in his contract with VW. His official hiring still needs approval from Renault shareholders, with the next meeting taking place in April.  (Read More…)

By on April 10, 2018

Matthias Müller, Image: Volkswagen AG/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

Volkswagen Group is thinking about replacing chief executive Matthias Müller with the head of its VW brand, Herbert Diess. According to inside sources, however, the decision already appears to have been made. When questioned about staffing changes, the company said it was “considering evolving the leadership structure” as it relates to the the management board — which could extend to a change in CEOs.

An automaker typically wouldn’t even hint at such a thing if it wasn’t already a done deal. That means Müller is almost guaranteed to be moving on soon, bringing his extended history with the company to a close. A true company man, Matthias completed a tooling apprenticeship at Audi in 1977, before a reprieve where he left to study computer engineering. Returning to the brand in 1984, Müller moved up the ranks swiftly — eventually becoming CEO of Porsche in 2010 and replacing Martin Winterkorn as Volkswagen AG’s CEO during 2015’s diesel emissions scandal.

While his contract is good until 2020, the company could still press for an early retirement. In fact, some reports even have Müller removed from his post already. (Read More…)

By on January 4, 2018

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The United Auto Workers’ executive board has selected Terry Dittes, current regional director on the East Coast, to become the union’s newest vice president. Dittes is tasked with overseeing the UAW’s Fiat Chrysler department, which is currently involved in an ugly federal corruption probe involving millions of dollars from a joint training center allegedly embezzled by both union and company officials.

Replacing Norwood Jewell, whose retirement became effective upon the close of 2017, Dittes is stepping in roughy six months before his first four-year term was supposed to end. While Jewell has not been formally charged with corruption, his supervisory role during the FCA-UAW scandal likely forced the early retirement.  (Read More…)

By on October 31, 2017

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Hyundai has snagged itself another high-profile BMW veteran. Last time it was Albert Biermann, dynamics wizard and former head of BMW’s M line. This time it’s Fayez Abdul Rahman, BMW’s former head of M Equipment, M sport packages, and M performance vehicles.

Whereas Biermann is currently serving as Hyundai Group’s vice president in charge of performance and high-performance vehicle development for the group, Rahman will focus specifically on Genesis vehicles. He previously led concept and platform development for numerous model lines at BMW — including the X Series, 7 Series sedan, and various M brand vehicles.

At Hyundai, he’ll be responsible for doubling the size of Genesis’ fleet by 2020, via the gradual inclusion of crossovers(Read More…)

By on October 24, 2017

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Ford is restructuring its upper management for the second time since former CEO Mark Fields took permanent leave of the company. Now in the top executive slot, Jim Hackett wants to continue tweaking staff in order to “improve efficiencies” and reshape the automaker in an image more appetizing to investors and potential buyers.

Hackett’s initial culling served to streamline the corporate hierarchy into something more manageable. The more recent shakeup, announced Tuesday, appears to be more of the same — leaving some with additional duties as Ford attempts to realign its global strategy. (Read More…)

By on August 29, 2017

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Audi announced a rather high-level reorganization of management on Monday as it continues grappling with life after Volkswagen Group’s diesel-emissions scandal.

The automaker is still on the receiving end of numerous criminal investigations and vehicle recalls, as well as criticism from unions. But four of its board members aren’t coming along for the ride. Audi AG is replacing CFO Axel Strotbek, production chief Hubert Waltl, human resources head Thomas Sigi and sales chief Dietmar Voggenreiter, effective at the end of this month.  (Read More…)

By on May 22, 2017

image: Michael Sheehan AutoNation 2014

At least twenty upper-echelon executives have left AutoNation since the start of 2014, with the vast majority bailing within two years. Short stints with an employer and lackluster job stability may be the norm for bottom-rung millennials but senior managers with years of experience have a tendency to stick around a while.

That doesn’t necessarily mean there is something sinisterly “up” with the largest automotive retailer in the United States, but it does leave you wondering about its future. This concern was heightened after AutoNation’s chief operating officer, Bill Berman, suddenly resigned last week, not even four months after being named president.  (Read More…)

By on May 1, 2017

tesla factory fremont

Tesla Motors is headhunting engineers from Mexico to work on automated equipment at its Freemont, California factory. While the brand can still call the forthcoming Model 3 “the most American” car in the world — once it takes delivery of Nevada-produced 2170 battery packs — it might not be able to make the same claim for its workforce.

The brand has had union troubles with the German robotics unit supplying the automated assembly lines essential for the Model 3’s timely production. While the recruitment effort in California may not be a direct response to that, it is definitely part of Tesla’s efforts to ensure it can adhere to the timetable it has set for the electric vehicle. The company has preorders out the wazoo and wants to build 500,000 cars a year at the Fremont plant by 2018, which requires a sextupling of 2016’s production figures.  (Read More…)

By on February 21, 2017

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Captain of industry John Mendel is retiring as the executive vice president of American Honda’s sales division this April, following ten years of service to the company. Mendel is probably best-known for ensuring that Honda and Acura’s marketing and sales focus remained on North America’s retail markets, not fleets.

Also retiring this spring is Honda Canada’s current president and 42-year company veteran, Jerry Chenkin. Filling the vacuum created in Chenkin’s absence is Dave Gardner, currently senior vice president and future president. Gardner will assume the role of president and provide direct oversight for the automotive and motorcycle divisions, power equipment, ATV, and small engine businesses.  (Read More…)

By on February 8, 2017

Skoda octavia Jozef Kabaň

BMW has chosen former Volkswagen stylist Jozef Kaban to head design for its core brand. After Karim Habib’s exodus from the company last month, BMW found itself missing an essential portion of its product planning department.

Kaban, 44, has been an important part of Volkswagen AG’s styling department. Most famous for his early work designing Bugatti’s Veyron, he was later responsible for the less-exciting Volkswagen Lupo and Seat Arosa. He also modeled the current generation Škoda Octavia — possibly after having a fever dream about modernizing the Lincoln LS. (Read More…)

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