This is the right time to launch a brand new automaker. Why? Because seldom has there been such a large number of proven and experienced executives waiting for their phones to ring.
The first person I am dialing is former Porsche AG CEO Wendelin Wiedeking. He will be the CEO. Wiedeking, 56, helped make Porsche the most profitable automaker in the world. The only reason he is no longer employed is because Wiedeking decided to challenge Volkswagen AG ueber-Chef Ferdinand Piech.
Piech doesn't lose personnel battles.
Let's assume Wiedeking has learned a valuable lesson, but we dont want him to be too humble. We need someone who likes to take chances. As the driving force behind Porsches bid to take over VW, Wiedeking has proved he has guts to spare.
His knowledge of product, his commitment to efficiency and his no-frills approach are other strengths needed in the boardroom.
CFO: Holger Haerter
The chief financial officer will be Wiedeking-ally Holger Haerter. Porsche dumped the CFO on the same day as Wiedeking. Not long ago Haerter was being hailed as one of the best financial minds in the free world. The 53-year-old German remains a genius in his field. He would be in charge of making the new company's financial arm strong. He has proved he can turn a small pile of money into a mountain. That is what this new company needs to support the start-up.
Product chief: Carl-Peter Forster
Now we need some production plants. No problem.
Let's assume that pretty soon General Motors Europe President Carl-Peter Forster, 55, will be available. (What future does he have at GM as it winds down its operations in Europe?) GM has too many plants in Europe. Forster could probably get one or even two for a good price as he knows all about them. He also was a top executive at BMW in the 1990s. Forster would be a perfect pick as head of production, manufacturing and engineering.
Sales boss: Jonathan Browning
For sales and marketing the guy to hire is Jonathan Browning. The vice president of global sales, service and marketing leaves GM on October 1. The 50-year-old former Vauxhall chairman helped launch GM's Chevrolet brand in western and eastern Europe in the early part of the decade. Chevy is now the top-selling brand in Russia and doing a solid job in western Europe. Browning knows what it takes to market a new brand.
Chief Technology Officer: Karl-Thomas Neumann
The chief technology officer and head of supplier relations should be Karl-Thomas Neumann, 48. Yes, he is still CEO of Continental AG, but how long can he last when he and controlling shareholder Schaeffler Group are feuding? Plus, he knows more about electric powertrains, lithium-ion batteries and other key components of future cars than most of his future rivals at top automakers. The team needs someone with Neumanns energy, enthusiasm and vision.
Asia CEO: Katsuaki Watanabe
The final member of my management board would be former Toyota CEO Katsuaki
Watanabe, 67. He is taking the fall for Toyota's current troubles, but during his time as a top executive, Toyota rose to the top of the automotive world, passing Ford and GM like they were standing still. He has incredible knowledge of a company that remains the benchmark for the industry. He also would give the new automaker automatic credibility in Asia, which is where most of the future growth will be. Asia also is where the batteries for all those zero-emissions cars will be developed and produced.
How could anyone afford to employ this team? In my perfect world they would all donate their time. They get paid when the company makes a profit.
100-plus years of experience
My team of castoffs and forgotten men has an average age of 55 years old and more than 120 years of experience in the industry. The board members have intimate knowledge of how Europes, North Americas and Japans No. 1 automakers run. They are very competitive, proud and have something to prove because of the way they left (or will leave) their jobs. Bottom line: This group would rival any automotive management board in the world.
Well, gotta go. It's time to get these guys on the phone. We have a carmaker to launch.