Peugeot breaks tradition with Tavares

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Philippe Varin swept into PSA in 2009 to prepare to prepare the French OEM for the current European economic malaise, and now his tenure is up.  In a move that is surely printing as much ink in the gossip pages in Paris as the economic journals, PSA has signed former Renault COO Carlos Tavares to take over.  This is just not done in Paris where niceties may be superficial, but are strong.  Well it’s been done now.  It may not be GM or Ford as Tavares had suggested in an August Automotive News interview, but leading a revival of near dead PSA presents a tantalizing and potentially highly rewarding challenge to the international auto veteran.

While Tavares may lack some of the product flair of his Nissan predecessor Patrickimages (2) Pelata, he corralled a Nissan organization that was lacking any top-level direction below CEO Carlos Ghosn.  At Nissan, he cemented the importance of U.S, product and sales discipline, and balanced Ghosn’s quest for market share Continue reading

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China August Auto Sales view; relax

The “China Slowdown” is running right behind the Europe morass and the U.S. fiscal cliff have been the big news for the US market. Now, August sees the China auto market rate of growth slow again, growing concern for automakers.  Here are a couple of thoughts on the impact on global Auto OEMs:

The biggest concern I’ve heard is over Toyota’s two months of decline in the market; -15% for August after a -5% in July.  Toyota says this is more a technical issue resulting form unseasonably big increased in July and August 2011 as it ramped local sales back up after the Japan crises. Both Toyota and local dealers dismissed suggestions that local pushback on Japan-China politics was not  Continue reading

Better a rocks star of a stock than a rock star CEO

Akio Toyoda seems to be rising like a rock star as highlighted in recent news articles.  The press and loyal company employees like rock star CEO’s, why not, they’re fun to cover and they make you feel good about working at just another car company.  However, what goes up must come down and over the past 20 years I’ve been in the industry, I note the press in particular love tearing down a CEO more than they enjoy building him up.  Continue reading

Crises and the Yen: opportunity and tasks

The last time the yen dipped below 80 was in 1995, the year I started working at Nissan in NY as head of US IR.  Little did I know how closely I would follow the currency (especially for my personal finance during the five years my family lived in Japan).   As the dollar soared and exchange rate topped 140, Detroit CEO’s and US policy makers repeated the mantra that we needed a fair rate of 105¥/$ to level the playing field.  Over this time, the J3 (Toyota, Nissan and Honda) racked up record profits as FX swung wildly.  But take note, even with the collapse of the dollar over the past three years, Japan automakers weathered the global storm relatively well.  The fact that they could deliver profits Continue reading

Changes? at the top? @Renault.

Tomorrow, Renault will announce a “new” management structure featuring a new and improved CEO position. According to reports in the French Press, Carlos Ghosn will take more control of corporate functions including legal, HR, public affairs and real estate.  I really don’t get the real estate function oh well —  as for the others functions, he was already ostensibly in control prior to the recent spy scandal that cost the prior COO his position but the French government has insisted on something concrete to tout.  Two names have surfaced so far regarding changes within Ghosn’s inner circle, Continue reading