With this issue, Automotive News Europe names its first Eurostars. We created this forum to honor the brightest stars in our European automotive galaxy, the executives who make a difference.
Schrempp, 54, has led a revolution at Daimler-Benz since taking over in 1995. He refocused the company on cars and trucks, selling more than a dozen businesses and folding Mercedes-Benz into Daimler-Benz. Daimler returned to profit in 1997.
His crowning achievement is the pending merger of Daimler and Chrysler, which he initiated this year in a conversation with Bob Eaton.
The new $130 billion giant will have 421,000 employees, a strong base in both Europe and North America and a range of products covering nearly every segment.
Deputy Chief Executive:
Carlos Ghosn, Renault
Since joining Renault in late 1996 from Michelin, Ghosn, 44, quickly established himself as Louis Schweitzer's tough No. 2 man. His cost-cutting strategy followed losses of FF5 billion in 1996. Ghosn's plan led to closure of the Vilvorde, Belgium, plant and cuts of FF20 billion within three years. Ghosn received responsibility for Mercosur in 1997.
Passenger Car Division:
When Hubbert, 59, took over as head of the passenger-car division a decade ago, Mercedes was about to roll out its overweight, ungainly S-class. Hubbert vowed that he would never bring out such a car again. The new S-class is lean luxury, a symbol of the new Mercedes-Benz.
Hubbert has guided Daimler's passenger-car division through its entry in new segments like the M-class, and he survived the A-class nightmare of 1997.
Executive in an Emerging Market:
Giovanni Battista Razelli, Fiat Mercosur
A year ago, Brazil accounted for the bulk of the profits at Fiat Auto. Brazil might be sleeping now, but Fiat isn't. Aggressive product development (the Palio 178 world-car platform), labor policies and sales strategies helped Razelli, 54, put Fiat ahead of VW in the first half.
Ian Gibson, Nissan
Nissan's Sunderland, UK, plant that Gibson, 51, has managed since 1989 is the most efficient plant in Europe for the second year in a row, and it's 30 percent better than the year before. Two years ago, he took over Nissan's manufacturing operations in Spain to bring them into sync with the UK. He is a maverick thinker who, for example, opposes outsourcing of modules. 'If a supplier delivers large sub-assemblies,' he says, 'you have lost control.'
Claude Lobo, Ford
Lobo, 55, who took over European design two years ago after running advanced design in Dearborn, is the principal spokesman for New Edge. The Ford styling concept is taking over. Its influence is even seen in the new Cadillac concept Evoq. The Ford Ka, Puma, Cougar and Focus are leading the way.
Product Development Boss for More Than One Car:
Georges Douin, Renault
Since Douin took over product planning in 1992, Renault has been one of the world's most creative car companies, rolling out innovative models such as the Twingo, Megane Scenic and Clio II.
In 1997, Douin, 53, was given responsibility for international operations outside western Europe and South America.
Project Leader for an Individual Car:
Bruno Cena, Fiat 156
Cena had two jobs on the 156, which was Europe's car of the year in 1997. He tuned the superb handling on the 156, and as head of Fiat Auto's D-platform, he planned production. Fiat insiders say that Cena was so instrumental in creating the 156's unique handling dynamics, that only he could be trusted to preserve those characteristics in production.
Jean-Baptiste Duzan, Renault
Duzan, 52, belongs to the generation of Renault managers promoted by former Chairman Raymond Levy. His big break was being appointed project manager for the Safrane in 1989. As purchasing manager since 1994, he has pushed through cost reductions while building supplier relationships. Early this year, he introduced the Optima program to 150 suppliers who will get long-term contracts in trade for lower costs.
Dieter Zetsche, Mercedes-Benz
Zetsche, 45, has had to invent new ways to sell sport-utilities, small roadsters, mini-cars and the miniest of cars, the Smart.
So far, so good. The M-class sport-utility is a smash in the US, and demand for the A-class has been strong, despite the moose test debacle last autumn. Meanwhile, sales of traditional Mercedes-Benz cars are better than ever. New marketing concepts may help sell Smart cars even if customers are reluctant.
Public Relations Executive:
Klaus Kocks, VW
Kocks, 56, is Europe's highest-profile chief spokesman, in a league of his own. Why? He speaks bluntly and he says what he thinks. And he honestly reflects the mind of his boss, Ferdinand Piech.
Juan Jose Diaz Ruiz, Toyota and Audi
Diaz Ruiz, 54, set up the innovative Audi Advertising Network, in which competing agencies were forced to work together and pick the best ideas. It resulted in brilliant advertising. Now at Toyota, he is setting up the Toyota Advertising Network with the same goal.
Noel Goutard, Valeo
The dean of European supplier chief executives has demonstrated foresight and the ability to act on it. He is transforming his company from a French supplier to a global supplier, steadily building international sales. His latest move was the acquisition of ITT Automotive's electrical business.