DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC

Rising Stars finish year with a flourish

Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.
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Three members of Automotive News Europe’s Rising Stars family are finishing the year on high notes.

Agustin Martin, currently president of Toyota Spain and a Rising Star from 2015, has been picked to lead Toyota Europe's newly created mobility and connected car unit. He starts on Jan. 1.

It seems Martin was destined for this job. When we spoke with him in 2015 he called the digital transformation taking place in the industry his biggest challenge. He also warned that companies such as Google needed to be taken seriously.

"These guys are hungry, they know no limits and they know a lot of stuff that we are now just learning," he said. "They have already proved that they can take over industries that have been there forever. Our role as professionals is to make sure that we will remain relevant. But we need to accelerate and become much more agile."

Martin has a position that will allow him to do just that.

Big promotion

Andrea Carlucci, an Automotive News Europe 2016 Rising Star, will become Toyota Europe's marketing director. He gets promoted after three years leading the automaker’s operations in Italy, where he boosted sales by more than 20 percent and increased the brand’s market share to 4.52 percent from 4.37 percent.

When we spoke with Carlucci last year he also talked about how fast the industry has been changing. "We face many challenges, from keeping up with the competition to improving our innovation," he said. "At the same time the auto industry still manages to ignite passion in people with the products it generates."

He also gave us some insight into how he stays motivated. "I feel that even big goals can be achieved by taking little steps. Even if they are just small changes, it's still important to look at every detail, take action, be consistent and perhaps even a little bit restless in the pursuit of your goals." Carlucci will get to do this in his new role based at Toyota Europe's headquarters in Brussels.

Product success

The third Rising Star who continues to soar is Class of 2017 member Michael Weiss, who is vice president thermal management at Schaeffler.

When the German supplier started its efforts to become a player in thermal management in 2008 just five people were involved in the project. Three years later, Schaeffler started mass production of a system for the Audi 2.0-liter TFSI gasoline engine. The company has produced more than 3 million units since then.

When we spoke to Weiss earlier this year he told us that establishing Schaeffler in the thermal management field is the greatest achievement in his career. His latest success was helping to open Schaeffler’s new 100 million euro plant in Svitavy, Czech Republic, in October. The factory will exclusively concentrate on thermal management and produce about 230,000 modules this year for three global automobile manufacturers, ramping up to more than 6 million modules over time.

Thermal management modules are crucial to maintaining an ideal temperature window for the engine and transmission. This is a key to reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. This is also true in hybrids -- and electric vehicles will also need high-performing thermal management technology.

That is why Weiss is bullish about the future. “There are so many new requirements in the new powertrains that none of us needs to be afraid of the future,” he told me in an email. “There is so much room for new sophisticated solutions.”

There’s a good chance that Rising Stars such as Weiss will be on the teams that are developing those solutions.

To nominate a Rising Star for our Class of 2018, please click here.

You can reach Douglas A. Bolduc at dbolduc@crain.com.

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