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  1. The latest CEO at Nissan, Hiroto Saikawa, is out-of-office permanently as of September 16th after yet another financial scandal rocks the company. Saikawa is the second Nissan CEO to be tainted by financial misconduct allegations. Allegedly, Saikawa received improper payments with regards to the sale of Nissan stock. The payments were after the date of the sale of the stock was altered and netted Saikawa additional hundreds of thousands of dollars. Saikawa has not yet been charged with a crime. Saikawa originally said he would stay on until a replacement was found, but abruptly changed course and formally resigned today. The temporary replacement will be Chief Operating Officer Yasuhiro Yamauchi until a permanent replacement has been found. There are currently ten candidates for the positions and Nissan says it is considering outsiders and non-Japanese.
  2. The latest CEO at Nissan, Hiroto Saikawa, is out-of-office permanently as of September 16th after yet another financial scandal rocks the company. Saikawa is the second Nissan CEO to be tainted by financial misconduct allegations. Allegedly, Saikawa received improper payments with regards to the sale of Nissan stock. The payments were after the date of the sale of the stock was altered and netted Saikawa additional hundreds of thousands of dollars. Saikawa has not yet been charged with a crime. Saikawa originally said he would stay on until a replacement was found, but abruptly changed course and formally resigned today. The temporary replacement will be Chief Operating Officer Yasuhiro Yamauchi until a permanent replacement has been found. There are currently ten candidates for the positions and Nissan says it is considering outsiders and non-Japanese. View full article
  3. Scott Keogh, Audi of America's president will soon have a new job come November 1st. He will become CEO of Volkswagen Group's North American operations, taking over Hinrich Woebcken who held the position since April 2016. This is a big deal since Keogh will be the first American to hold the top position for Volkswagen's North America branch in 25 years. Keogh has an impressive track record at Audi when he joined in 2006 as their chief marking officer. He would play a key role in boosting the awareness of the brand. In 2012, he was named president and would preside over one of the longest sales streaks that continues to this day. His new assignment is going to be tough. As Automotive News points out, Volkswagen dealers have the " lowest profit margins of any brand in the U.S." A number of Volkswagen dealers also struggle with customer service. Keogh has worked on both at Audi, helping dealers improve profits and boosting customer satisfaction - vaulting itself into the top three. “Hinrich J. Woebcken has brought the Volkswagen brand back on track for success in the U.S. and the North American region. Considering the challenging conditions, these achievements deserve my dedicated recognition. After the successful comeback of the Volkswagen brand, Scott Keogh, who led Audi to excellence in the U.S., will build upon the momentum and implement the next stage in the growth strategy as we continue to develop Volkswagen into a more relevant player in North America,“ said Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen AG in a statement. Woebcken will be sticking around Volkswagen as an adviser. Keogh's replacement at Audi will be Mark Del Rosso, currently the head of Bentley's Aamerican division. Source: Volkswagen, Automotive News (Subscription Required) SCOTT KEOGH NAMED HEAD OF VOLKSWAGEN GROUP OF AMERICA Hinrich J. Woebcken remains available to the company as an adviser Mark Del Rosso, head of Bentley Motors Inc., Americas, named president of Audi of America HERNDON, Va. (October 10, 2018) – Scott Keogh, head of Audi of America, was named president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America as well as head of the Volkswagen brand for the North American region. Keogh, who joined Audi in 2006, will succeed Hinrich J. Woebcken, who led the successful transformation of Volkswagen in North America. Woebcken will remain with the company as an adviser. Keogh’s successor is Mark Del Rosso, president and CEO of Bentley Motors, Inc., Americas, and former chief operating officer of Audi of America. Keogh and Woebcken's new roles are effective Nov. 1. Del Rosso joins Audi Dec. 1. A replacement for Del Rosso will be named later. Keogh, 49, joined Audi as chief marketing officer, where he led the revival of the Audi brand with innovative marketing tactics that lead to record awareness and brand strength. In 2012, he was appointed president, building on the momentum to help reach record customer satisfaction levels and double sales from 2010 to 2015. Woebcken, 58, an industrial engineer by training, was named CEO of the newly created North America region of the Volkswagen brand in January 2016 and then president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America. He began his career with Krauss-Maffei in 1985. After holding positions in sales and marketing, he became managing director responsible for sales, marketing and after-sales with Dürr AG in 1997, before joining BMW as head of technical purchasing in 2004. Before joining VW, he was BMW's senior vice president, driving dynamics, and a member of the board of management at Knorr-Bremse AG. He will continue to be available to the company in the North American region as senior executive strategy adviser. “Hinrich J. Woebcken has brought the Volkswagen brand back on track for success in the U.S. and the North American region. Considering the challenging conditions, these achievements deserve my dedicated recognition," said Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen AG. "After the successful comeback of the Volkswagen brand, Scott Keogh, who led Audi to excellence in the U.S., will build upon the momentum and implement the next stage in the growth strategy as we continue to develop Volkswagen into a more relevant player in North America.“ Del Rosso, 54, is a graduate of the University of Southern California and an experienced marketing and sales executive with extensive expertise in the premium sector. He started his career with Toyota Motor Sales in 1991, holding various senior corporate and regional positions throughout the U.S. for Lexus and Toyota. In 2008, he became executive vice president, COO of Audi of America and was appointed president and CEO of Bentley Motors, Inc., Americas in 2017.
  4. Late Thursday afternoon saw a massive bombshell dropped; the SEC sued Elon Musk over securities fraud over his August tweet that he was considering taking Tesla private and having the "Funding secured." But a new report from CNBC said there was a possible settlement between the two where Musk would not have to admit guilt. However, Musk pulled the plug on the deal at the last minute. According to sources, this is what the proposed deal looked like, Tesla and Musk would had to pay a fine Musk would not have to admit guilt or deny culpability Barred Musk as being the chairman for two years Require Tesla to find two new independent directors However, Musk refused this deal "because he felt that by settling he would not be truthful to himself, and he wouldn't have been able to live with the idea that he agreed to accept a settlement and any blemish associated with that, the sources said." This move puts Tesla and Musk in a very difficult spot. The company's stock fell 13.9 percent on Friday - the worst since November 2013. There are also questions as to whether or not Elon Musk will stay on as CEO or if this mess will force him to leave. Choosing to fight the SEC means it could take years for an outcome to be reached according to Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst with Bernstein Research. "In the absence of a settlement, the mere possibility that Musk could be removed as CEO (or entirely from Telsa) is likely to cast an overhang on the stock, and make it extremely difficult for the company to raise capital (either private or public)," Sacconaghi said. What will be Tesla's defense to the SEC's charge? The Wall Street Journal learned from a source that Musk believed "he had a verbal agreement in place with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund to help finance a plan to take the auto maker private." Musk believes that the SEC isn't "taking into account that Middle Eastern businesses routinely operate using verbal agreements in principle." Source: CNBC, Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)
  5. Today, the supervisory board of the Volkswagen Group was planning to make a decision as to the future of Audi CEO Rupert Stadler. Since June, Stadler has been in jail over concerns of evidence tampering with the diesel emission scandal. But a decision could not be reached and the decision has been postponed. Sources tell Automotive News that representatives for Stadler and Volkswagen's board were unable to to negotiate a solution that would see Stadler step down as Audi CEO. No reason was given as to why an agreement could not be reached. Bram Schot, Audi sales executive has been acting as interim CEO. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  6. Ferrari held their annual Capital Markets Day where the company provided details about their plans through 2022. CEO Louis Camilleri revealed a roadmap that is similar to what former CEO Sergio Marchionne presented previously. 15 new models are expected to launch by 2022 and that will include a new SUV called Purosangue. However, Camilleri has pushed back the launch from 2020 to 2022 to "get it perfect." There will also be a new mid-engine model that may serve as Ferrari's performance flagship as it is said to be quicker than the La Ferrari. Ferrari is also expanding its hybrid offerings, planning to offer 60 percent of its total production with a hybrid engine by 2022. This will include a new V6 with turbocharging. Camilleri has also pulled back on Marchionne's earnings target of 2 billion euros to a range of 1.8 to 2 billion by 2022. "This is an ambitious plan, but a doable one based on a concrete, detailed framework," said Camilleri. Source: Bloomberg
  7. Mike Manley has been chosen as the replacement for the seriously ill Sergio Marchionne as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO today. A source tells Automotive News Europe that the decision was made during an emergency meeting of FCA's board of directors today. "With reference to the health of Sergio Marchionne, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (“FCA”) (NYSE: FCAU / MTA: FCA) communicates with profound sorrow that during the course of this week unexpected complications arose while Mr. Marchionne was recovering from surgery and that these have worsened significantly in recent hours," FCA said in a statement released a few moments ago. "As a consequence, Mr. Marchionne will be unable to return to work." As we reported earlier this morning, Marchionne has been dealing “massive” and serious complications after surgery to his shoulder. Marchionne was planning to announce his successor next April during the company's announcement of 2018 financial results. Manley joined DiamlerChrysler in 2000 as the director of network development for the UK branch. He would hold various positions at DiamlerChrysler and Chrysler before being named CEO of Jeep in 2009. Under his leadership, Jeep has expanded into other markets and sales have quadrupled. He would also be named CEO of Ram Trucks in 2015. Manley prevailed over two other FCA veterans: CFO Richard Palmer and COO of Europe, Middle East and Africa regions, Alfredo Altavilla. Source: Automotive News Europe (Subscription Required), Fiat Chrysler Automobiles FCA Announcement July 21, 2018 , London - With reference to the health of Sergio Marchionne, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (“FCA”) (NYSE: FCAU / MTA: FCA) communicates with profound sorrow that during the course of this week unexpected complications arose while Mr. Marchionne was recovering from surgery and that these have worsened significantly in recent hours. As a consequence, Mr. Marchionne will be unable to return to work. The Board of Directors of FCA, meeting today, firstly expressed its closeness to Sergio Marchionne and his family and underlined the extraordinary contribution, both human and professional, that he has made to the Company in these years. The Board resolved to accelerate the CEO transition process that has been proceeding over the past months and named Mike Manley as CEO. The Board will therefore propose to the next Shareholder Meeting, to be called in the coming days, that he be elected to the Board and serve as an executive director of the Company. In the meantime, in order to provide for his full authority and operational continuity for the company, the Board has with immediate effect granted Mr. Manley all the powers of CEO. He will also assume responsibility for the NAFTA region. Mr. Manley and his management team will proceed with the implementation of the 2018 – 2022 Business Plan as presented on June 1 of this year, a plan that will further assure FCA’s strong and independent future.
  8. Earlier this month, Audi CEO Rupert Stadler was taken into custody by German prosecutors over concerns about evidence tampering. He is expected to be in jail for another week as investigators will conduct interviews about the diesel emission scandal. Whether or not he is released on bail remains to be seen, but sources tell Automotive News Europe that Stadler will likely not return as Audi's CEO. "The expectation is that Stadler cannot return to his post. You have to be careful, because it's not so easy due to German labor laws, but he needs to concentrate on his legal defense right now and clearing his name," said a source close to Volkswagen Group's supervisory board. The board has been protecting Stadler for some time, but a change in think on the board now see him as 'damaged goods'. According to sources, the last thing Audi needs is a CEO that is implicated in the diesel emission scandal returning to said position. It is hoped that when Stadler is released, he will step down as CEO. It would avoid the embarrassment of the company having to fire him. Who could take Stadler's place? Some believe it could be Bram Schot, Audi's sales chief who was named interim CEO. Sources reveal that Schot isn't acting like a caretaker CEO. A key example was the decision to cancel the media launch of the e-tron in Brussels in August, to the U.S. on a yet to be revealed date. "If Bram Schot does his job well, he has a chance to be the permanent successor. He has all the abilities he needs to act and Schot isn't postponing anything, he's making decisions -- de facto he's the CEO," said a source. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  9. Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn has been indicted for his involvement in the diesel emission scandal. The indictment, which was filed under seal at the U.S. District Court in Detroit back in March, was unsealed yesterday. U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said in court filings the reason for unsealing is "because there is no longer a belief that unsealing these documents will compromise an ongoing investigation." Winterkorn has been charged with four felony counts, including wire fraud and violating the clean air act. In the indictment, it is alleged that Winterkorn was told about the efforts to manipulate U.S. emission tests with their TDI vehicles in May 2014 and July 2015. Winterkorn has previously stated that he only found out about the cheating in August 2015. The indictment also mentions a meeting that took place on July 27, 2015 at Volkswagen's Wolfsburg headquarters. It is reported that a Powerpoint presentation was shown to various executives, including Winterkorn, that laid out the process of deception that Volkswagen was doing to regulators. Allegedly at the meeting, Volkswagen employees recommended that the company work on getting the approval of 2016 model year diesel vehicles without revealing the existence of the cheat software. Various executives including Winterkorn agreed to the plan. "If you try to deceive the United States, then you will pay a heavy price," said U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a statement. So, when should expect Winterkorn to appear in a U.S. courtroom? The answer is never and Automotive News explains why, Emphasis mine. A source told Reuters that Winterkorn is in Germany and will be staying there. He is likely aware of what happened Oliver Schmidt, who pleaded guilty for his participation in the scandal. Schmidt was arrested in late 2016 when he was traveling in the U.S. German prosecutors will continue their investigation into Winterkorn's involvement in the diesel emission scandal. "Our investigation strategy does not change just because the Americans have filed charges against Winterkorn," said a spokesman for the Lower Saxony prosecutors' office. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), 2, Reuters
  10. Yesterday, Volkswagen's supervisory board showed current CEO Matthias Müller the door and announced that Dr. Herbert Diess, the current head of the Volkswagen brand will take his place. This confirms reports earlier this week about a change in leadership. In a statement, Volkswagen said the decision of Müller's departure was “mutual” and will be effective immediately. “Matthias Müller has done outstanding work for the Volkswagen Group. He assumed the chairmanship of the Board of Management in the fall of 2015 when the Company faced the greatest challenge in its history. Not only did he safely navigate Volkswagen through that time; together with his team, he also fundamentally realigned the Group’s strategy, initiated cultural change and, with great personal commitment, made sure that the Volkswagen Group not just stayed on track but is now more robust than ever before. For that, he is due the thanks of the entire Company,” said Hans Dieter Pötsch, chairman of the supervisory board. Diess' rise to CEO is surprising considering he joined Volkswagen from BMW in 2015 - just a few months before the diesel emission scandal came to light. He has made great strides in improving Volkswagen's tendency to spend money like its going out of style. This was important during the aftermath of diesel emission scandal. “The Volkswagen Group is a union of strong brands with great potential. Matthias Müller has laid the groundwork for our transformation. My most important task will now be to join with our management team and our Group workforce in consistently pursuing and pushing forward our evolution into a profitable, world-leading provider of sustainable mobility. In a phase of profound upheaval in the automotive industry, it is vital for Volkswagen to pick up speed and make an unmistakable mark in e-mobility, the digitalization of the automobile and transportation as well as new mobility services,” Diess said in a statement. This wasn't the only change made by Volkswagen's supervisory board yesterday. The company will reorganize their passenger car brands into three groups. Volume: Seat, Skoda, and Volkswagen Premium: Audi Super Premium: Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, and Porsche Volkswagen's truck division will go into their own separate unit. Diess is also planning a review of all the companies under the Volkswagen group umbrella (Ducati motorcycles and Renk, a transmission maker) to see whether it makes sense to keep them. "We've lost a great deal of trust with customers. It will be a long, rough road to gain it back," said Diess. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), 2, Reuters, Volkswagen EXTENSIVE REVISION OF VOLKSWAGEN GROUP MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE DECIDED Apr 12, 2018 Board of Management and Supervisory Board pave the way for more efficient Group management Group will be organized into six business areas and the China region Dr. Herbert Diess follows Matthias Müller as Chairman of the Group’s Board of Management Supervisory Board thanks Matthias Müller for outstanding service New head of Human Resources and Organization – Gunnar Kilian to follow Karlheinz Blessing Dr. Garcia Sanz leaves the Company at his own request Porsche CEO Oliver Blume appointed to Group Board of Management WOLFSBURG, April 12, 2018 – The Board of Management and Supervisory Board of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft have resolved to extensively revise the Group’s management structure. Volkswagen is thus systematically continuing to transform its business and establishing even more efficient Group management in a phase of highly dynamic change in the Company and the entire automotive industry. In order to sustainably implement the new structure, there will be a number of changes on the Board of Management. Matthias Müller steps down as Chairman of the Board of Management by mutual agreement, effective immediately. At its meeting on Thursday, the Supervisory Board appointed Dr. Herbert Diess as his successor. Chairman of the Supervisory Board Hans Dieter Pötsch expressly thanked Müller for his dedication: “Matthias Müller has done outstanding work for the Volkswagen Group. He assumed the chairmanship of the Board of Management in the fall of 2015 when the Company faced the greatest challenge in its history. Not only did he safely navigate Volkswagen through that time; together with his team, he also fundamentally realigned the Group’s strategy, initiated cultural change and, with great personal commitment, made sure that the Volkswagen Group not just stayed on track but is now more robust than ever before. For that, he is due the thanks of the entire Company.” The introduction of the brand groups Volume, Premium and Super Premium, along with the planned preparation for capital market readiness of Truck & Bus, create the basis for a more subsidiary leadership of the Group. The Chairmen of the Board of Management responsible for the brand groups will be taking on additional Group management roles. Following this reorganization, Herbert Diess will be responsible for Group Development and Research, Rupert Stadler for Group Sales, and Oliver Blume for Group Production. Additional Group functions will be allocated according to the same principle. Due to the special significance of vehicle connectivity, Vehicle IT will be led by Herbert Diess himself; Company IT will be headed by Frank Witter. Procurement and Components are to be combined into one unit going forward. The new structure streamlines Group management, systematically leverages synergies in the individual operating units and speeds up decision-making. “The Volkswagen Group’s goal is and remains to align the Company and its brands with future needs, to safeguard its position among the leaders of the international automotive industry with innovativeness and profitability and to be instrumental in shaping tomorrow’s personal mobility with the strength of our Group brands. Herbert Diess is the right manager to do that. In realigning the Volkswagen brand, he has demonstrated to impressive effect the speed and rigor with which he can implement radical transformation processes. This accomplishment makes him predestined to fully implement our Strategy 2025 in the decisive years that are now to follow,” Pötsch says. “The Volkswagen Group is a union of strong brands with great potential. Matthias Müller has laid the groundwork for our transformation. My most important task will now be to join with our management team and our Group workforce in consistently pursuing and pushing forward our evolution into a profitable, world-leading provider of sustainable mobility. In a phase of profound upheaval in the automotive industry, it is vital for Volkswagen to pick up speed and make an unmistakable mark in e-mobility, the digitalization of the automobile and transportation as well as new mobility services,” Diess says. At its meeting today, the Supervisory Board also decided on two new appointments to the Group Board of Management. Dr. Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Board of Management at Porsche, will belong to the Group’s top governing body going forward. In addition, Gunnar Kilian, who until now has served as Secretary-General of the Volkswagen Group Works Council, has been appointed the new member of the Group Board of Management for Human Resources. He takes over the post from Dr. Karlheinz Blessing, who served in the role from the beginning of 2016. Dr. Blessing will be leaving the Board of Management by mutual agreement, but remains available to the Company in a consultative capacity for the remaining duration of his employment contract. Pötsch thanked Blessing for his service: “Dr. Blessing has been instrumental in realigning the Group during the past two years. He also contributed with great dedication to the evolution of the VW brand as part of the Volkswagen brand’s Future Pact. Dr. Francisco Javier Garcia Sanz, head of Procurement, leaves the Company at his own request. “During the past two decades, Dr. Garcia Sanz has built up a cutting-edge Procurement department. His leadership of the diesel task force was instrumental in overcoming the diesel crisis. As Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the SEAT brand, he also made a significant contribution to reinforcing the brand,” said Pötsch in gratitude. Ralf Brandstätter, Board of Management member responsible for Procurement for the VW brand, will take on this additional role provisionally.
  11. The past few years at Volkswagen haven't been smooth sailing with the diesel scandal coming to light with various executives being fired or stepping down, sales taking a nosedive, and various fines. Matthias Müller who has been Volkswagen AG CEO since the scandal broke has been trying his best to get the company back on track. But that might not be enough for him to keep his job. Bloomberg and German paper Handelsblatt have learned from sources that Müller will be stepping down as CEO on Friday. Possibly taking his place is Herbert Diess, head of the Volkswagen brand. According to Reuters, the decision will take place during a meeting of Volkswagen's supervisory board. "Volkswagen is considering a further development of the management structure of the group which would also be associated with personnel changes in the board of management," said Volkswagen in a statement. Reportedly, the Porsche and Piech families - the biggest shareholders of Volkswagen - were in agreement to replace Müller. We'll keep you posted if any new developments pop up. Source: Bloomberg, Handelsblatt Global, Reuters
  12. For a number of years, people have been saying the biggest problem with Volkswagen is they haven't “figured out the American market yet.” Even the automaker admits that it's the reason that its market share has dropped. Volkswagen has tried again and again to make some inroads into the market to no avail. But the German automaker is giving it another go. Automotive News had the chance to do a deep dive into Volkswagen's new plan by speaking with Volkswagen Group of America CEO Hinrich Woebcken. His plan involves turning this division into an American car company - in spirit. It should be noted that Woebcken came to the U.S. as an exchange student in the seventies, something he credits for getting him interested in industrial engineering. "I owe America, I owe Rochester, N.Y., and I owe this metal shop for how I basically went to start my adult life. We want to get more Americanized not only in our product but in our business. It's not that we're giving up on the genes of the Volkswagen brand. Volkswagens are Volkswagens. But what we recognized over the years is ... that we were too much a small-car company, too much a sedan company," said Woebcken. This plan was sparked only a couple months into his position as Volkswagen America's CEO. During a meeting with dealers, Woebcken was introducing the three-row crossover that is now known as the Atlas. But at the time of the meeting, it was wearing the Teramont name. Dealers hated the name and wanted to have Atlas as the name. Woebcken agreed to talk with his bosses about changing the name. "Everybody said there was no chance to convince headquarters to change the name of a regional product. It's not a big thing, I know, but it's a symbolic statement that Wolfsburg said, 'OK, the region is independent. They want to make sure the brand is getting successful in this country. Let them decide for themselves the name,' " explained Woebcken. "It was, in terms of Volkswagen, a pretty big thing that demonstrates ... that this is really an independent company here in America, that the factories report to us, the engineering centers in California and Detroit report to us, the purchasing organization — which is a big leverage for the cost situation — is reporting into the North American region, plus, of course, all the sales and marketing. So we really have all the levers in our hand now, not only to listen to the demands of the market, but really also to implement them." Some of the parts of Woebcken's plan have come to fruition including cutting the prices on various models like the Tiguan and introducing a new 6 Year/72,000 Mile warranty. Other parts of Woebcken's plan include, Shortening Volkswagen's long product cycles with plans to “introduce two new cars every year” to North America Localize part sourcing for their two North American plans in Chattanooga, TN and Puebla, Mexico Roll out Volkswagen's electrification strategy beginning in 2020 with the I.D. Crozz It is an ambitious plan but it seems to be paying off somewhat. Sales in 2017 rose 5.2 percent. In 2018, sales are up 5.8 percent. We highly recommend checking out this piece by Automotive News as we are only scratching the surface. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  13. Diesel is quite popular in Europe partly due to subsidies provided by governments - in this case, a lower tax rate on diesel fuel than gasoline. The thinking at the time was diesel engines burn their fuel more efficiently than gas engines, thus they contribute less to global warming. But as the Volkswagen diesel emission scandal would reveal, diesel vehicles aren't that much cleaner, producing more nitrogen oxide emissions than their gas counterparts. Now, one CEO from a German automaker is saying that maybe it is time to end the subsidies. “We should question the logic and purpose of diesel subsidies. The money can be invested more sensibly to promote more environmentally friendly technologies,” said Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller to German paper Handelsblatt. This is quite the surprise as Volkswagen along with other German automakers said diesel still had a future due to new pollution reduction technologies. Also, Volkswagen did very well with the sales of diesel models. But with the dark cloud of the diesel emission scandal, Müller likely sees the writing on the wall and wants to get out ahead. Müller went on to say that he was in favor of banning older diesel vehicles from city centers. But he said that newer diesel vehicles should be exempt from the bans as they meet "stricter standards on nitrogen oxide emissions". Source: Handelsblatt via New York Times
  14. Rolls-Royce has made it clear that it plans on introducing electric powertrains to their vehicles in the future once the technology has fully developed and customers want one. But new regulations are forcing their hand. Rolls' CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös told Car and Driver that the Phantom will receive the option of an electric powertrain sometime during its lifecycle. The platform that underpins the Phantom and future models have been built with electrification in mind. “We are more regulator driven than consumer driven. We might well see, in the next decade, some Asian markets closing down city centers to combustion engines completely. And then, of course, [electrification] is a must,” said Müller-Ötvös. Müller-Ötvös admitted that no one is clamoring for an electric Rolls at this time, but expects that situation to change in the next 10 years or so. Source: Car and Driver
  15. Today, Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann has announced that he will be stepping down as Opel CEO, confirming various reports that came out over the weekend. His replacement is Opel's current chief financial officer, Michael Lohscheller effective immediately. "It was a difficult personal decision to not continue with the Opel/Vauxhall team when it transitions to Groupe PSA. I am proud of the team for all we have accomplished so far and have no doubt that the move to PSA will make Opel/Vauxhall an even stronger and more successful company in the future. I am committed to completing this transaction and will then take some time to decide what is next for me,” Neumann said in a statement released today. Neumann will stay on Opel's management board until the sale of Opel and Vauxhall to PSA Groupe is completed. Reports of Neumann's department popped up on Saturday by German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. Their report said a key reason for his departure was concerns about PSA Group not fully valuing the importance of electric vehicles. It should be noted the paper did not cite a source for this claim. As we reported back in February, Neumann was working on a secret plan on transitioning the brand to selling only electric vehicles. Then on Sunday, Reuters learned from a source that Volkswagen was considering re-hiring Neumann - possibly as CEO for Audi. Before joining GM, Neumann was in charge of Volkswagen's operations in China. Current Audi CEO Rupert Stadler is under fire due to the recent reveal of illegal software installed on certain A7 and A8 TDIs in Europe. Source: Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung , Reuters, Opel Press Release is on Page 2 Michael Lohscheller Appointed New CEO of Opel Rüsselsheim. Opel CEO Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann has stepped down as the Speaker of the Management Board and CEO of Adam Opel GmbH today. He remains a member of the Management Board until the closing of the sale of Opel/Vauxhall to Groupe PSA. Michael Lohscheller, Opel CFO since September 2012, has been unanimously appointed as his successor with immediate effect by the Supervisory Board. This will ensure continuity for the business and its stakeholders as well as a seamless managerial transition with the priority task to build the new strategic plan for Opel. According to Dr. Neumann, “it was a difficult personal decision to not continue with the Opel/Vauxhall team when it transitions to Groupe PSA. I am proud of the team for all we have accomplished so far and have no doubt that the move to PSA will make Opel/Vauxhall an even stronger and more successful company in the future. I am committed to completing this transaction and will then take some time to decide what is next for me.” “We have made tremendous progress in the turnaround of Opel/Vauxhall under Karl-Thomas’ leadership,” said Dan Ammann, Opel Supervisory Board Chairman and President, General Motors. “We thank him for his significant contributions to Opel/Vauxhall and GM over the past four years.” Dr. Wolfgang Schäfer-Klug, Vice Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Adam Opel GmbH and Head of the General Works Council: “The worker representatives within the Supervisory Board respect Dr. Neumann’s decision. He has managed to regain recognition with Opel, an improved brand image and a strengthened self-awareness, coupled with competitive, outstanding models. The decision to appoint the current CFO and member of the management board Michael Lohscheller as the new CEO is explicitly supported by us.” Michael Lohscheller said: “I would like to thank the Supervisory Board for the trust. We will stay on the current path and continue to gain strength as part of the Groupe PSA. After the expected closing of the transaction, a new European champion will emerge. I am looking forward to the new task and to working together with the management team to implement a successful future plan for the benefit of all 38,000 Opel/Vauxhall employees and its stakeholders.”
  16. This morning, Ford announced that current CEO Mark Fields will be stepping down as CEO. Taking his place is Jim Hackett, former CEO of Steelcase (an office furniture manufacturer) and chairman of Ford's self-driving unit. “Mark Fields has been an outstanding leader and deserves a lot of credit for all he has accomplished in his many roles around the globe at Ford. His strong leadership was critical to our North American restructuring, our turnaround at the end of the last decade, and our record profits in the past two years," said Bill Ford in a statement. The news was first broke by Forbes last night and later corroborated by the New York Times last night. According to unnamed sources, Ford's Executive Chairman Bill Ford and the board of directors lost confidence in Fields' ability to lead the company as he was unable to rally employees around a common theme or make fast decisions. His predecessor, Alan Mullaly was very good at those things. “Without Alan, it’s back to the inmates running the asylum,” a source told Forbes. Not helping matters is Ford's stock price dropping 40 percent during Fields' three-year tenure. The New York Times reports that the decision to remove Fields as CEO took place on Friday with The Detroit News reporting that Bill Ford delivering the news to Fields after a board meeting. “We need to re-energize our business and sharpen our execution. The good news is we have the financial resources and the talent to get it done. But what we needed is a transformative leader who has done it before. And who not only has the vision, but also knows how to get the organization to move toward that vision," Ford said in an interview with The Detroit News. “Jim has done this before. And he’s done it at an industrial company. And he’s done it at a company where he redefined it from what it was to what it could become. Jim will bring speed of decision-making. The world in which we are operating in today is very different from even three years ago.” Hackett was the CEO of Steelcase for over 20 years. He joined Ford's board of directors in 2013 and became the chairman of its Smart Mobility division in 2016. Hackett also worked as the interim athletic director of the University of Michigan from 2014-2016. “I am so excited to work with Bill Ford and the entire team to create an even more dynamic and vibrant Ford that improves people’s lives around the world, and creates value for all of our stakeholders. I have developed a deep appreciation for Ford’s people, values and heritage during the past four years as part of the company and look forward to working together with everyone tied to Ford during this transformative period,” said Hackett in a statement. Ford has also announced other management changes, Jim Farley, currently executive vice president and president, Ford of Europe, Middle East and Africa since January 2015 will become Ford's executive vice president and president, Global Markets. Joe Hinrichs, Ford's executive vice president and president for the Americas will move up to executive vice president and president, Global Operations. Marcy Klevorn, Ford's CTO will become executive vice president and president, Mobility. Source: Forbes, New York Times, (2), The Detroit News Press Release is on Page 2 FORD APPOINTS JIM HACKETT AS CEO TO STRENGTHEN OPERATIONS, TRANSFORM FOR FUTURE; FARLEY, HINRICHS, KLEVORN TAKE ON NEW ROLES Jim Hackett named as Ford Motor Company president and CEO, succeeding Mark Fields, who is retiring. Hackett, who will report to Executive Chairman Bill Ford, is recognized as a transformational business leader Hackett led Steelcase Inc.’s turnaround to become the world’s No. 1 office furniture maker, served as interim Athletic Director at University of Michigan and has led Ford Smart Mobility LLC since March 2016. He served on Ford’s board from 2013 to 2016 Hackett, together with Bill Ford, will focus on three priorities: Sharpening operational execution, modernizing Ford’s present business and transforming the company to meet tomorrow’s challenges Ford also named leaders to three new roles under Hackett. Jim Farley is appointed executive vice president and president, Global Markets, Joe Hinrichs is appointed executive vice president and president, Global Operations, and Marcy Klevorn is appointed executive vice president and president, Mobility Mark Truby is appointed vice president, Communications, and elected a company officer. He succeeds Ray Day, who plans to retire from the company next year and will provide consulting services until then Paul Ballew is appointed vice president and Chief Data and Analytics Officer DEARBORN, May 22, 2017 – Ford Motor Company today named Jim Hackett as its new president and CEO and announced key global leadership changes designed to further strengthen its core automotive business and accelerate a strategic shift to capitalize on emerging opportunities. Hackett, 62, has a long track record of innovation and business success as CEO of Steelcase, Interim Athletic Director at the University of Michigan and executive chairman of Ford Smart Mobility LLC since March 2016. Reporting to Executive Chairman Bill Ford, Hackett will lead Ford’s worldwide operations and 202,000 employees globally. He succeeds Mark Fields, 56, who has elected to retire from Ford after a successful 28-year career with the company. “We’re moving from a position of strength to transform Ford for the future,” Bill Ford said. “Jim Hackett is the right CEO to lead Ford during this transformative period for the auto industry and the broader mobility space. He’s a true visionary who brings a unique, human-centered leadership approach to our culture, products and services that will unlock the potential of our people and our business.” Added Hackett: “I am so excited to work with Bill Ford and the entire team to create an even more dynamic and vibrant Ford that improves people’s lives around the world, and creates value for all of our stakeholders. I have developed a deep appreciation for Ford’s people, values and heritage during the past four years as part of the company and look forward to working together with everyone tied to Ford during this transformative period.” Hackett, together with Bill Ford, will focus on three priorities: Sharpening operational execution across the global business to further enhance quality, go-to-market strategy; product launch, while decisively addressing underperforming parts of the business Modernizing Ford’s business, using new tools and techniques to unleash innovation, speed decision making and improve efficiency. This includes increasingly leveraging big data, artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, 3D printing and more Transforming the company to meet future challenges, ensuring the company has the right culture, talent, strategic processes and nimbleness to succeed as society’s needs and consumer behavior change over time Bill Ford and Ford’s Board of Directors thanked Fields for his significant contributions to the company. “Mark Fields has been an outstanding leader and deserves a lot of credit for all he has accomplished in his many roles around the globe at Ford," Bill Ford said. “His strong leadership was critical to our North American restructuring, our turnaround at the end of the last decade, and our record profits in the past two years." Also today, Ford announced a new structure for its operations and named three new leaders reporting to Hackett: Jim Farley, 54, is appointed executive vice president and president, Global Markets. In this role, Farley will oversee Ford’s business units, The Americas; Europe, Middle East & Africa and Asia Pacific. In addition, Farley will oversee Lincoln Motor Company and global Marketing Sales & Service. Farley has served as executive vice president and president, Ford of Europe, Middle East and Africa since January 2015. Farley will also oversee the strategy and business model development for electrified vehicles and autonomous vehicles. Joe Hinrichs, 50, is appointed executive vice president and president, Global Operations. In this role, Hinrichs will oversee Ford’s global Product Development; Manufacturing and Labor Affairs; Quality; Purchasing; and Sustainability, Environmental and Safety Engineering; Hinrichs has been serving as Ford executive vice president and president, The Americas, since December 2012. Marcy Klevorn, 57, is appointed executive vice president and president, Mobility. In this role, Klevorn will oversee Ford Smart Mobility LLC, which was formed last year to accelerate the company’s plans to design, build, grow and invest in emerging mobility services, as well as Information Technology and Global Data, Insight and Analytics. Klevorn has served as group vice president, Information Technology and Chief Information Officer since January 2017. All three appointments are effective June 1. New leaders to succeed Hinrichs, Farley and Klevorn will be the subject of a future announcement. “We are fortunate to have three dynamic and talented leaders in Jim Farley, Joe Hinrichs and Marcy Klevorn taking on greater responsibility,” Bill Ford said. “Each has a track record of driving innovation, cost efficiency and delivering results around the world. They will work closely with Jim Hackett to lead Ford’s day-to-day operations, build our brand and capitalize on emerging opportunities.” In addition, Ford appointed Mark Truby, 47, vice president, Communications, effective immediately, reporting to Bill Ford. He was elected a company officer. Truby has previously led Ford’s Communications teams in Asia Pacific and Europe, Middle East & Africa. Truby succeeds Ray Day, who plans to retire from the company next year and will provide consulting services until then. Ford also elected Paul Ballew, 52, as Global Chief Data and Analytics Officer, reporting to Klevorn. Ballew has been leading Ford’s global data and analytics teams since December 2014, including development of new capabilities supporting connectivity and smart mobility.
  17. It is no secret that Bentley CEO Wolfgang Durheimer has his eye on adding a few more Bentayga variants. As we reported back in December, Bentley is considering a coupe-styled variant, long-wheelbase model, and even a high-performance version. If approved, these models could arrive in 2019 - the time when Bentley is planning to do a facelift for Bentayga. But why is Durheimer so interested in adding more variants? Speaking with Autocar, he explained the reason was to stay one step ahead of competitors. “Derivatives are important to us because you have to be the newest kid in town for customers,” said Durheimer. “We will see a large number of competitors [in this segment] in the future. They are all working on their luxury SUVs. The customers that are buying in this market are keen to have the latest design out there.” The competitors include Rolls-Royce's upcoming Cullinan, Lamborghini Urus, and Audi Q8. It should be noted that a decision on adding more variants to the Bentayga lineup has still not been made. Source: Autocar
  18. One of the big questions facing the sale of Opel to PSA Group is what will happen in the future. Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann spilled some of the beans in an interview with German magazine Auto Motor und Sport. Neumann will remain the CEO of Opel, but tells the magazine that he will work closely with PSA's CEO Carlos Tavares. "It is important for me to stand before employees and show leadership. I have done this in the past and will continue to do so," said Neumann. "I think we have great respect for each other. That is why I see a good foundation for continued cooperation," the magazine quoted Neumann as saying. Opel will also have its own leadership, and the ability to design and develop its own cars. The only difference is that it will be using platforms from PSA. Neumann says it will take several years for the brand to transition from GM to PSA platforms. The main priority is to get Opel profitable once again. This will be accomplished by deepening cooperation with PSA and lowering development costs. Opel is also planning their largest product offensive with 7 new models being launched in the near future. They include a new SUV that will serve as the second flagship model alongside the new Insignia and new electric models. Neumann declined to comment on a report he was planning to make Opel an electric-vehicle only brand. Interestingly, Neumann revealed that he was very skeptical about introducing Opel into the Chinese marketplace. "This is a complete misunderstanding of the situation. PSA has long since ceased to be sick, but has recovered very strongly and just presented a super result for 2016. And we are clearly on the road to recovery. From a strong and a well-being, two might now become strong." Source: Auto Motor und Sport
  19. Carlos Ghosn announced yesterday that he would be stepping down as CEO for Nissan on April 1st. In a statement, Ghosn explained that he wants to focus on the expansion and stewardship of the alliance between Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi. That doesn't mean Ghosn is fully stepping away from Nissan. He will still serve as the chairman of the board for the brand. "As Nissan's Chairman, I will continue to supervise and guide the company, both independently and within the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. This planned change will also allow me to devote more time and energy to managing the strategic and operational evolution and expansion of the Alliance and ensuring that all its members benefit from the competitive advantages that its scale will deliver. I am committed to supporting the Alliance as it evolves and expands, and will continue to serve each member of the Alliance wherever and whenever necessary," said Ghosn. Ghosn's replacement is Hiroto Saikawa, currently the co-CEO of Nissan. Saikawa joined the company back in 1997 and has held a number of roles including the company's Chief Competitive Officer. "I would like to thank Mr. Ghosn and the Nissan board for entrusting me with this new responsibility. Under Mr. Ghosn's chairmanship and with the support of the excellent leadership team that has been built at Nissan, my focus will be delivering our company's continued performance and development and on continuing Nissan's contribution to the success of the Alliance," said Saikawa. Source: Nissan Press Release is on Page 2 Hiroto Saikawa appointed as Nissan Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn to continue to serve as Chairman of Nissan’s Board of Directors YOKOHAMA, Japan – At the recommendation of Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn, the Nissan Board of Directors has decided that as of April 1, 2017, Hiroto Saikawa will assume the position of Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Ghosn will continue to serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors, and he will seek a renewal of his mandate at the company's general shareholders meeting in June 2017. This planned management evolution follows Mr. Ghosn's leadership of the recent expansion of the Renault-Nissan Alliance to include Mitsubishi Motors, which positions the Alliance among the top automotive groups in terms of scale. As Chairman of all three Alliance companies, and as Chief Executive Officer of the Renault Group, Mr. Ghosn wishes to focus more of his attention on the expansion and stewardship of the Alliance, as its Chairman and CEO. In this role, he will ensure that the opportunities available to Alliance members are fully harnessed. Mr. Ghosn stated, "I am confident that the management team I have developed at Nissan over the past 18 years has the talent and experience to meet the company's operational and strategic goals. Having recently taken on new responsibilities at Mitsubishi Motors, and taking into consideration the upcoming Nissan general shareholders meeting, I have decided that the time is right for Hiroto Saikawa to succeed me as Nissan's CEO." He continued, "As Nissan's Chairman, I will continue to supervise and guide the company, both independently and within the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. This planned change will also allow me to devote more time and energy to managing the strategic and operational evolution and expansion of the Alliance and ensuring that all its members benefit from the competitive advantages that its scale will deliver. I am committed to supporting the Alliance as it evolves and expands, and will continue to serve each member of the Alliance wherever and whenever necessary." Mr. Saikawa currently serves as Nissan's co-CEO and a representative director. Between April 2013 and October 2016, he was Nissan's Chief Competitive Officer. Mr. Saikawa joined Nissan in 1977, and since 1999 he has served in a variety of senior management positions, including Chairman of the Management Committees of the Americas and Europe, as well as the Executive Vice President of Purchasing. In addition to his responsibilities at Nissan, Mr. Saikawa is the current Chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA). He previously served as a member of the board of directors of Renault between 2006 and 2016. Mr. Saikawa stated, "I would like to thank Mr. Ghosn and the Nissan board for entrusting me with this new responsibility. Under Mr. Ghosn's chairmanship and with the support of the excellent leadership team that has been built at Nissan, my focus will be delivering our company's continued performance and development and on continuing Nissan's contribution to the success of the Alliance."
  20. Yesterday, news broke that General Motors and PSA Group (owner of Peugeot and Citroen) were in discussions on possibly selling Opel and Vauxhall. Already, the possible sale is under intense scrutiny from various European governments and unions. There are concerns about jobs being cut with this deal, and none are too happy that officials from local governments and unions were not included in the talks. There is also the possibility of political backlash coming to Germany and France as both will be holding elections later this year. "It's unclear whether GM will keep an Opel stake, who pays what and if anything will go through at all, given the political backlash," a source told Reuters. GM and PSA have declined to say what possible cuts to the workforce, plants, and other items that could be part of the deal. GM Europe employs roughly 38,000 workers - 19,000 are in Germany. “Almost all experts say that with this deal now being prepared between the large French, almost state-owned conglomerate and Opel, that especially the German Opel plants may be on the losing side,” saud Rainer Einenkel -- former works council chief at Opel’s Bochum plant, which was shut down. “The government has an interest in a successful future for the company and its sites. The government will, in light of the talks it’s holding with all parties involved, form an opinion,” said Steffen Seibert, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief spokesman. Over in Great Britain, there are concerns of Vauxhall being on the chopping block. Part of this comes from Britain deciding to the European Union. By leaving, the country would lose access to the EU Single Market which guarantees unconstrained trade across the member states. It would mean various countries would be leveraging tariffs on British-made goods, making production in the country less competitive. Also, if the deal was to go through, Vauxhall could be one of the first things to go when it comes time to cut costs. Unite, the British worker's union said the president of GM gave them assurance last year that there would not be any surprises in terms of GM's plants in Britain. With this deal, the union says those commitments had not been held. "It cannot be that the future of UK car workers’ jobs now lie in the hands of the French government and their backing for Peugeot," said Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey. Because of this, General Motors and PSA Group find themselves in damage control mode. GM CEO Mary Barra sent a memo to staff in the U.S. and Germany explaining the deal would be good for GM's future growth, the longevity of Opel's German operations, and shareholder value. “While there can be no assurance of any agreement, any possible transaction would enable PSA Groupe and Opel Vauxhall to leverage their complementary strengths, enhancing their competitive positions for the future in a rapidly changing European market,” said Barra in the message. A source tells Bloomberg that Barra and GM President Dan Ammann plan to meet with German government officials sometime in the future about the deal. Next week, PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares will meet will officials. According to a source, Tavares plans on keeping Opel's management structure and keeping the brand as a German one. Source: Bloomberg, Reuters, 2
  21. Hyundai Motor America is on the hunt for a new CEO as David Zuchowski has been fired today. Automotive News broke the story this morning after learning from sources about the change. Hyundai has confirmed Zuchowski's departure this afternoon and said W. Gerald Flannery will take over as interim CEO. Dealers were told about the decision last night and employees were notified earlier this afternoon. Zuchowski joined Hyundai back in 2007 as the U.S. sales chief and would become CEO at the beginning of 2014. Sources tell Automotive News that Zuchowski was fired because he was unable to meet internal sales objectives. Hyundai was one of the few manufacturers that saw success during the 2008 recession. But in the past few years, Hyundai's growth has been dwindling. 2010: 24 percent 2011: 20 percent 2012: 9 percent 2013: 3 percent 2014: 1 percent 2015: 5 percent 2016 (so far): 1.3 percent The reason for the shrink in growth comes down to Hyundai being weak or not having crossovers in certain segments. As we reported last month, Hyundai will be adding a new subcompact crossover in 2018, followed by an even smaller one. Also, the Santa Fe lineup would see some changes. However, it wasn't enough to keep Zuchowski as CEO. “We appreciate Dave’s decade of service to Hyundai, especially his leadership as president and CEO, which has made us a stronger organization. I look forward to working closely with our dealers, affiliates, senior management and our talented and hard-working employees across the country to realize Hyundai’s full potential,” said Flannery in a statement. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), The Truth About Cars, Hyundai Press Release is on Page 2 W. GERALD FLANNERY NAMED INTERIM PRESIDENT AND CEO OF HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., Dec. 21, 2016 – Hyundai Motor America today announced a continuation of a reorganization that began late this year by appointing W. Gerald (Jerry) Flannery as interim president and CEO, effective immediately. He succeeds Dave Zuchowski who will be leaving the company. Flannery, who has been with Hyundai since 1987 and is responsible for all legal matters in the U.S., will retain his duties as Chief Legal and Safety Officer. He is widely recognized as an authority on automotive product liability, regulatory and safety matters. His immediate focus will be enhancing the company’s brands, accelerating change for growth and customer satisfaction opportunities in the U.S. market. “We appreciate Dave’s decade of service to Hyundai, especially his leadership as president and CEO, which has made us a stronger organization,” Flannery said. “I look forward to working closely with our dealers, affiliates, senior management and our talented and hard-working employees across the country to realize Hyundai’s full potential.” Since joining Hyundai during its infancy in 1987, Flannery has been instrumental in leading the company through periods of rapid change and positioning it for steady growth. Recently, he created Hyundai’s first safety office in North America. Previously, Flannery was a senior attorney in the Office of the General Counsel at Ford Motor Co. A search for Zuchowski’s replacement will begin immediately.
  22. Saying he wants to give a fresh start for the Nissan-Renault alliance, Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa has announced that he'll be stepping down as CEO in the coming months. In the meantime, Saikawa will be focusing on "reforming the poor governance" that weakened the Japanese automaker before leaving. Saikawa has been leading the charge of ousting former Nissan Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn, a bit surprising since Saikawa was a protege of Ghosn. As we reported a month ago in the rumorpile , the relationship between Saikawa and Ghosn has been strained due to the two clashing on various issues. There was talk about Ghosn ousting Saikawa during a board meeting in November, but that would not happen as Ghosn would be arrested before it. Saikawa's reign as Nissan CEO has been problematic with a number of vehicles being recalled in Japan due to improper inspections and declining sales in the U.S. Source: Bloomberg
  23. Ask Peter Welch, the CEO of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) what worries him the most, he'll admit that it is average consumers getting priced out of new cars. He admitted this yesterday at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit. Welch said that the latest figures he has seen - through October of last year - reveal the average retail price of a new car climbing to a new high of $35,366. The average monthly payment is hovering at $538, and interest rates have climbed to an average of 5.76 percent (new) and 9 percent (used). Longer loan terms are becoming common, with the average length standing at 64.3 months. "You know, people buying $55,000 pickup trucks with $1,000-a-month payments — I've never seen it. A lot of people don't think that's sustainable," said Welch. "That is going to put a giant dent in the SAARs and it almost makes me wonder if at some point we're going to see another Henry Ford," offering new and more affordable vehicles. Aside from more people buying more expensive trucks and utility vehicles, Welch said other reasons for the increases in prices come down to new fuel economy standards and safety equipment. He sees new car prices rising towards $40,000 with $800 monthly payments. On a slightly positive note, NADA predicts that 16.8 million light vehicles will be sold in 2019. While down from 17.3 million in 2018, Welch notes there are some positive economic indicators "such as high employment rates, a solid GDP and a healthy economy overall." Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  24. It is no secret that Bentley is working on an electric vehicle. What has been unclear is when said vehicle is expected to launch. Recently, Automotive News Europe had a sit-down with Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark where he revealed that electric cars are seen "as another growth opportunity in a five- to 10-year period." Why the long period? "The problem is, with the size of our vehicles and the frontal area we push through, current battery-power density limits the size of the car with a credible driving range. The Jaguar I-Pace is the perfect-size car for the battery technology, but it’s too small for us. It’s all driven by power density of the battery, but there’s nothing industrialized in the supply chain before 2023-2024-2025. Only then does it open up the size of the vehicle and the category you can make a credible battery-powered car," said Hallmark. Hallmark wouldn't say what Bentley's full-electric vehicle would look like, but past rumors point to the possibility of the Mulsanne replacement of going full EV. Bentley knows that it needs an EV sooner or later. Hallmark said 40 percent of Bentley customers would consider buying an electric vehicle. Also, a set of possible Bentley customers, "the upper liberals and the post-moderns" are trending towards Porsche and Tesla models. Source: Automotive News Europe (Subscription Required)
  25. The past couple of years has seen a lot of talk about consumers are turning away from cars towards trucks and utility vehicles. U.S. automakers have responded to this trend by announcing cuts to their car lineup - General Motors being the latest one. But other automakers are being more cautious. Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America told a gathering at the Detroit Economic Club last week that car sales are reaching the point of bottoming out - just under 30 percent in November sales. Unlike the American brands, Lentz isn't giving up on cars as they represent more than 4 million compact, midsize, and near-luxury cars sold to buyers. "There’s no way I’m going to walk away from that. We are always going to have a bias toward passenger cars,” said Lentz. The Associated Press reports that sales of passenger cars "are on pace to be 800,000 vehicles below 2017, while truck and SUV sales should increase by the same amount." Source: Associated Press

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