Franz-Josef Paefgen, 51, Audi chief executive
Replaced Herbert Demel in May after guiding development of cars that generated record sales and profits in 1997. Will take Audi into another new segment in 1999 with the small AL2.
'I am certainly not a traditional engineer who looks at nuts and bolts and concentrates on improving their specifications. For me, engineering is the feeling.'
Earl Hesterberg, 44,
Nissan Europe sales and marketing vice president
Former US Nissan executive brought new discipline to national sales companies. He has replaced the Japanese heads of Nissan-owned distributors in five countries.
'My job is to get the volume up because we are going to be investing more money in production and new products in Europe.'
Leif Johansson, 47, AB Volvo president
New group chief executive is off to a fast start since replacing Soren Gyll last spring. Car sales and group profits soared in 1997. Now Johansson wants to accelerate product development, cut purchasing costs and raise productivity. He also wants closer ties with Mitsubishi Motors.
'Volvo is pursuing a growth strategy. We cannot downsize to sustainable favorable profitability.'
Christian Dewulf, 48, NedCar president
Restored order at the Volvo-Mitsubishi joint venture after taking over in January. The partners quarreled in 1996; now they get along well. Dewulf wants NedCar to be one of Europe's most flexible and efficient carmakers.
'I want NedCar to be recognized all over Europe for the quality of its cars.'
Fabrizio Giugiaro, 33, Italdesign styling boss
The son of Giorgetto Giugiaro moved toward stardom in 1997. He created the Daewoo 'd'arts' and Volkswagen W-12 concept car at October's Tokyo show. Fabrizio now runs styling at Italdesign, the company his father co-founded.
'In reality, I work together with my father.'
Carlos Ghosn, 43, Renault executive vice president
Native of Brazil was handed sweeping authority by Louis Schweitzer to put Renault on the right track. His cost-cutting drive helped restore profits. The former head of Michelin's North American operations is also pushing for greater manufacturing efficiency and overseas expansion.
'We must go fast in several areas. Renault must accelerate its cost reduction program, internationalize, and speed up its processes.'
Walter Hasselkus, 55, Rover chief executive
Ex-BMW motorcycle chief soothed relations between BMW and old hands at Rover. He launched the Land Rover Freelander and showed the future Mini at the Frankfurt auto show in September.
'We will keep separate entrepreneurial entities. We feel separation keeps the clear profile of the groups. And I don't want to lose my job.'