Automotive News has announced its annual list of Industry All-Stars. This year, the theme is apparently "success in the face of economic uncertainty," or something of that liking. The list points to executives who have led their respective brands and automakers to positive sales in spite of the European financial crisis and slowing sales in China. See the list below, and you'll understand why:
- Industry Leader of the Year and CEO, Europe – Martin Winterkorn, CEO, Volkswagen Group (above): The VW boss started with the German automaker in 2007, overseeing a staggering 12 brands. Under his leadership, sales of Volkswagens have gained in both China and America. VW has also expanded production to America and grown its operations in Brazil. Winterkorn is a very hands-on executive, traveling to America six times to test and tweak the American-built current-generation Passat. Volkswagen is aiming to be the largest and most profitable automaker in the wold by 2018, and Winterkorn will stay on through that time, making him accountable for those goals.
- CEO, North America – Sergio Marchionne, CEO, Chrysler Group: How does 31 straight months of positive year-over-year sales sound? The Fiat and Chrysler chief has bestowed dealers with a wealth of new product, and the American automaker is expected to post $1.5 billion in profits this year, in spite of economic turmoil in Europe.
- CEO, Asia – Takanobu Ito, President, Honda Motor Co.: In addition to leading the Japanese automaker through the aftermath and destruction of a tsunami, Takanobu Ito has overseen the revival of the NSX sportscar and the emergency facelift of the Honda Civic. He has also stated the company is looking to grow to six million in global sales in the next four years. Big plans, but he has also delivered up to this point.
- US Exec, Asian Automaker – Jim Lentz, CEO Toyota Motor Sales USA: Lentz has endured as Toyota's US boss through the 2010 unintended acceleration issue, and the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Through all of this, the Toyota Camry is still America's best-selling car, and profits are on the rise. Success in the face of crisis, indeed.
- US Exec, European Automaker – Jonathan Browning, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America: The 53-year-old Englishman came over to head up Volkswagen of America two years ago. Since then, VW sales have increased here at a rapid pace, and the brand has opened the Chattanooga plant to build the Passat. The plant is expected to expand to produce a mid-sized crossover (Tiguan perhaps?) for the US market.