The pun proved irresistible. “Mystery Ends, Mistry Begins”, ran the headline in India’s Economic Times on the appointment last week of Cyrus Mistry to succeed Ratan Tata at the head of the eponymous tea-to-steel holding company. If the succession was a mystery, it looked to have a pretty feeble final twist.
It’s a cruel coincidence that the latest death knell for Saab comes within days of the latest extension of car guy Bob Lutz’s lease on life.
On Thursday, a Swedish court rejected the carmaker’s attempt to seek protection from its creditors, pushing a decision on potential insolvency into the hands of suppliers and employees awaiting payment for materials and labour. Saab is appealing, but the obituaries for the group – now selling well under 100,000 units annually – are already being written. Read more
The demise of Norwegian electric car pioneer Think Global will drain some of the energy from advocates of electric vehicles.
They should recharge by shifting their view from blueprints of cars and studying instead more comprehensive plans that aim to combine vehicle, infrastructure and services. Read more
General Motors’ plan to give “a higher profile” to its Chevrolet brand makes lots of sense, given that Chevrolet is the equivalent of the Toyota brand – a volume marque around which other brands are arrayed. But why stop there?
It is increasingly odd for GM, which has been attacking its brand proliferation in the US, to have different brands around the world for its volume cars – Vauxhall in the UK, Opel in Germany and Holden in Australia.
The company has already taken the logical step of losing the GM Daewoo name in South Korea and adopting Chevrolet instead. Why not bite the bullet and do that same in other countries? Read more
It is tempting to dismiss the Renault scandal, which has humiliated Carlos Ghosn, the company’s chief executive, after he admitted this week that it had falsely accused three former executives of espionage, as a corporate Dreyfus affair.
Renault’s grovelling apology to the three executives it wrongly accused of industrial espionage is an extraordinary episode that indicates a serious lack of judgment by its senior managers. Read more
Contrast the reaction to rewards paid to UK bank executives – £28m in share bonuses and long-term incentives to nine Royal Bank of Scotland officers, for instance – with the response to stock awards worth almost $100m for Ford Motor’s Alan Mulally and Bill Ford.
Both pay-outs are being made to executives who took on big turnround jobs – and had no responsibility for what went before. Both contain deferred elements. Both, let’s face it, are huge in absolute terms, however you cut them. But whereas many people seem to believe Mulally, Ford’s CEO, deserves his pay-out, his RBS counterpart Stephen Hester and colleagues have attracted mainly brickbats for their rewards. Read more
Sergio Marchionne of Fiat and Chrysler has got himself into a fine mess with one appearance in San Francisco on Friday in which he managed to scandalise two governments simultaneously.
One of his sallies was foolish as well as offensive. Describing the finance offered by the US and Canadian governments to keep Chrysler afloat with taxpayer money as “shyster” loans was an absurd comment (for which Mr Marchionne has apologised).
To state the obvious, Chrysler would have collapsed in 2009 without those loans and no-one else apart from the US government was willing to make them. I still question whether it was a good idea at all.
The fact that it charged interest on behalf of taxpayers was the least it could do, and Mr Marchionne, who as I previously noted enjoys being the centre of attention, was silly to bite the hands that fed him. Read more