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Which Car Brand Would You Hate To Be CEO Of?

Aa Least Want To Ceo Ts
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A lot of the time, we ask you questions about cars. What do you like, what do you hate, what would you buy if you needed to get up a ski slope on a Wednesday, that sort of thing. But today we’re asking a bigger question that requires you to zoom out and think about the big picture. What automaker would you refuse to run, given the opportunity?

Picture it like this. You’re a high-flying executive with decades of experience at the top of the business world. You’ve been preparing for your next grand move, and finally, an offer is on the table. You could be President, or maybe CEO, of a given automaker. Looking over what’s in front of you, you chuckle to yourself heartily. “Not a million years,” you laugh.

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Automakers have their ups and downs, just like virtually every large business does on a long enough timeline. Boom times come when a new model perfectly predicts the taste of the zeitgeist, leading to massive sales and buckets of goodwill. The spoils, properly reinvested, can keep the party going for a decade or more. And then, on the flipside, bad times often beget more turmoil. An automaker that suffers a few bad misses can find itself short on cash to dig itself out of the hole. Often, recovery involves a lucky Hail Mary or, quite often, a buyout. Some automakers survive under new owners and maintain their identity; others are slowly pulled apart piece by piece.

Detroit, Mi, Usa. May 2, 2022. Editorial Use Only, 3d Cgi. General Motors Company Signage Logo On Top Of Glass Building. Automobile Manufacturer In High Rise Office Headquarters.
Image: Stock.Adobe.com/Askar

Your job as the head of the automaker is to navigate the maelstrom of the modern auto business. You’ll need to set a strategic direction for the company, and make tough decisions. Is it time to push big on a small trucks, or do people crave more of your luxury SUVs with ever more opulent trim levels? Do you need to close factories and put thousands out of work, or will investing in your labor force pay dividends down the road? These are very real questions that come up every day, and they tend to have consequences that take months or years to unfold. With that kind of inertia, you need a steady hand on the tiller to make sure you’re not sending your company down the tubes.

Running some automakers, though, would prove more difficult than others. It’s easy to imagine walking into a place that has been on the wrong path for some time, and just being overwhelmed with everything that’s going wrong. Imagine trying to get new product in production while every day the bean-counters are telling you there’s no way you’ll service your debt this quarter. Followed by a bollocking from the shareholders on your quarterly earnings call. Who would want to walk into that?

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Shanghai, China June 28, 2023: Stellantis Shanghai Office Exterior. Stellantis N.v. Is A Multinational Automotive Corporation Formed From The Merger Of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles And The Psa Group.
Image: Stock.Adobe.com/Tada Images

Imagine taking on Chrysler right now—an automaker with almost no product and seemingly no bold plan for the future. Seriously, head to Chrysler.com right now. The company, once a core member of the Big Three, now has the Pacifica and the 300 and not a skerrick more. For me, that’s my answer. I would not run Chrysler if you paid me.

Okay, that’s a lie. I couldn’t turn down a CEO salary or the stock options. I’d show up and give it a red hot crack and try and bank as much as I could before the house of cards came tumbling down.

So which automakers would I actually refuse to run? Well, I wouldn’t take on a role at Lada because there’s a war on, you know. Alfa Romeo seems like a tough gig, too. I also wouldn’t want to run Subaru because I can’t speak Japanese, and that whole thing with Carlos Ghosn scared me. I know it was Nissan, but either way, I don’t want to get tricked into signing something silly I can’t read and then I find out I’ve committed corporate treason or something. Plus, you know. Head gaskets.

So, what say you, commentariat? What automaker would you refuse to run—and why? The silliest answer most rooted in a thread of business reality gets the glory.

Image: Stellantis

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Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
2 months ago

I’d bet I’d be able to have a track record equal to or better than Bob Nardelli for the millions of dollars in compensation I’d receive.

But Stellantis would be it. You have a giant mega-corporation of cobbled together assets and the associated bureaucracy, probably even worse with Fiat vs. Alfa vs. Chrysler/Dodge vs. Jeep people protecting their rice bowls.

You have apparently very little in the product pipeline, and your showrooms today are stacking up inventory on the wayyy back lot. They need help now. You won’t be able to provide it fast enough.

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
2 months ago

Any of them, I could not do much worse than the overpaid figureheads now and I could retire with as much money as I could live on.

Livinglavidadidas
Livinglavidadidas
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Stock

Yea the question would have to imply doing the job in good faith. I could screw around, get fired after collecting massive compensation and you’d never hear from me again

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
2 months ago

I would love to know how many CEOs are actually doing their job in good faith and not just in it for the money and to mess stuff up as a way to get the next better CEO job.

JDE
JDE
2 months ago

I think at least Chrysler has a well of sister cars and expertise to work with, they just really need to get a move on. Honestly I think the upstart electric companies re the scariest right now. Canoo, Vin Fast, Fisker, Lucid, even Rivian to an extent.

Chrysler almost put all their eggs in to the BEV basket and that is seriously hurting them right now though as well.

Chronometric
Chronometric
2 months ago

Any of them. If you keep it afloat for a while with stock buybacks and fake EV announcements, sell your options and retire. If you fail, Golden Parachute.

Tim Beamer
Tim Beamer
2 months ago

GM. But if I was offered the job and took it, I would buy the Jeep business from Stellantis, then have them engineer a proper new Blazer.

JDE
JDE
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim Beamer

not really necessary, GM knows how to make a 2 door Tahoe with straight axles. They just have to have the guts to pull that trigger. Considering Jeeps are languishing currently and the Bronco hype is dying, I doubt GM will jump into that anytime soon. They are having a blast with the Colorado trying to compete with the Taco more than anything.

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim Beamer

GM has been selling a Colorado-based Trailblazer for 10 years in other markets. Made in Brazil and Thailand. They should sell it here.

https://www.suvdrive.com/sites/default/files/public/45%20angle%20view/45%20angle%20front%20Chevrolet%20TrailBlazer%20LTZ%202019.jpg

MrLM002
MrLM002
2 months ago

Ford. The massive amount of bureaucracy one has to deal with to effect meaningful change for the better at Ford must be obscene.

It has been years and Ford STILL can’t meet demand for the Maverick Hybrid even after jacking up the price.

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
2 months ago
Reply to  MrLM002

Is that because they can’t, or because they don’t care to?

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
2 months ago
Reply to  Vic Vinegar

Honestly, both possible answers to that point an equally bleak picture.

MrLM002
MrLM002
2 months ago
Reply to  Vic Vinegar

Who know, as Ricardo Mercio said below both are “equally bleak”.

If they can’t or don’t care to then they deliberately lied to everyone when they said the Hybrid drivetrain was “standard”.

If they don’t care to I’m certain they won’t mention that while lobbying for a Government bailout if after all these years of pushing expensive models and trims people can’t afford to buy, that people stop buying them, all the expensive models on lots just sit and rot, and Ford can’t tool up fast enough to produce the vehicles people want to buy and can afford in the quantities that the people want to buy.

Ford can and has made great products, and all of them are handicapped by the bureaucracy at Ford. On one hand they got bean counters who are penny wise and pound foolish, and on the other hand they got people who think that the exposed screws in the Ford Maverick interior have to have Ford branded screws instead of generic ones, you know, so we can have something that costs more and is much more of a supply chain liability…

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
2 months ago

All the American car CEO’s are clowns anyway.

I wouldn’t hate to be CEO of any of them. I know the importance of making good cars and cool cars, and they will sell great 🙂

Maybe a Russian car company would be not a good place to be CEO.

Cal67
Cal67
2 months ago
Reply to  Dogisbadob

As CEO of a Russian car company you just need to stay away from windows.

George CoStanza
George CoStanza
2 months ago

Stellantis. Probably as close as I’d get to feeling like Capt. Smith on the Titanic.

I’d rather run a rebooted Tucker.
I’d EV the Torpedo as an AWD large sedan alternative to cleanse the roads of the CUVpocalypse – with a Diesel-electric PHEV option for those not ready for full-on EV.

Last edited 2 months ago by George CoStanza
Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
2 months ago

I am in it for the golden parachute, give me any of them.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
2 months ago
Reply to  Arrest-me Red

For reals. I could by SO MANY PORSCHES regardless of what company I ran.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
2 months ago
Reply to  Lewin Day

No problem: you stash them at the house in the Hamptons

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
2 months ago
Reply to  Lewin Day

Counterpoint: You get that golden parachute regardless, right? Live it up, I say.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago

Get paid millions, screw up, get paid tens of millions. I’m in for most of them. Imagine going to Suburu and even if the only thing you do is solve the Head Gasket issue you are a God. Chrysler only has 2 cars at least you aren’t stuck slashing models and costs just add a new model or two.

Outofstep
Outofstep
2 months ago

Give me a golden parachute and I wouldn’t hate being CEO of any car brand. Hell give me any Stellantis brand. In fact I’d be CEO of Stellantis. They’re already shitting the bed so it wouldn’t be too noticeable if I made it any worse. Plus I’d make Lancia available in America and have them make a modern day Integrale.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
2 months ago

Either of the DeLorean heirs/pretenders to the throne.

There’s almost no way it’s going to work. Hell, the original didn’t really work, and that was before the internet, an all-time classic movie, and another guy already making a stainless steel vehicle that everyone can’t ignore.

Last edited 2 months ago by Jack Trade
JDE
JDE
2 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

you have to be surprised Elon did not try to make a new Delorean already though.

Trust Doesn't Rust
Trust Doesn't Rust
2 months ago

Aitekx

Ain’t no golden parachute with that gig.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
2 months ago

I’d avoid BYD. It’s tearing up its domestic market and pushing hard into Europe, South America and Mexico and that all looks rosy, but for this: the rest of the Chinese economy is in the tank right now and the government just announced its productivity goal is five percent growth for the next year. With everything else around in deep recession, who do you think will be counted on to pull that load? And when that five percent goal is missed, who gets blamed? And what do the Chinese do to people they are unhappy with? Who the hell knows, they seem to disappear. I’d like to avoid that fate.

Saul Goodman
Saul Goodman
2 months ago

British Leyland. That conglomerate was a disaster.

Second place for me would be late 70s Chrysler without knowing that the K-car would save the company.

Matt Gasper
Matt Gasper
2 months ago

Chrysler’s probably a cushy job. I imagine dude’s got a lot of free time when he’s not moving his brand’s single deck chair from place to place.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
2 months ago

Aston Martin
JLR
Bugatti
Nissan
Infiniti
Mitsubishi
GM
Ford
Fisker

Simon M
Simon M
2 months ago

Do I get an instant golden parachute if I say “Apple”?

Pisco Sour
Pisco Sour
2 months ago

Any brand that is currently doing well – there’s nowhere to go but down for someone with zero CEO experience.

On the other hand, with a struggling brand it would be easier to take risks or do “out of the box” thinking…if it fails, so what. If it succeeds, you’re a genius.

OnlyFlans
OnlyFlans
2 months ago

I might turn down the offer to be CEO of VinFast. Between the disastrous North America launch, rapidly changing EV landscape, and allegations of having detractors arrested, it sounds like more of a headache than it’s worth.

Simon M
Simon M
2 months ago
Reply to  OnlyFlans

I expect VinFast is also one of those organisations that are so dodgy that as soon as it slows down, it collapses completely and you go to prison for fraud.

DialMforMiata
DialMforMiata
2 months ago
Reply to  OnlyFlans

If Mr. Vuong wants you to come to Vietnam for a face-to-face meeting to explain why he’s not the number one EV manufacturer in the US yet you’ll probably want to submit your resignation via Zoom call.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago

Toyota, too successful, very hard to demonstrate improvement, very easy to do something to screw it up, lot of pressure.

Would much rather be in charge of either Chysler or Fiat North America, not a whole lot of responsibilities on a daily basis, big salary, not much to do, and you figure out a way to sell maybe a few dozen more cars in a quarter and you look like a genius

Kevin B
Kevin B
2 months ago

Stellantis. They have too many brands and are in a desperate need of consolidation. What’s worse is that it seems they have made no efforts to standardize parts and components. Finally, you need to deal with French, Italian, Brit, and American bitchiness.

Alexk98
Alexk98
2 months ago

Really the any Stellantis Brand would be an utter nightmare right now. They’re doing everything in their power to Maximize Shareholder Value™ by cost cutting aggressively, platform sharing as blatantly as possible, and removing every last ounce of soul from each brand they have in the sake of profits (Gotta make those stocks go up).

Any brand under the umbrella is going to be such a mess to run, such that doing the right thing for the long term will undoubtedly get get you canned because it’ll require actual investment, forethought, and the sacrifice of short term gains which will make the board fly into a fit of badge engineered uproar.

Also Nissan, I don’t want to have to flee a country in a Cello case.

DialMforMiata
DialMforMiata
2 months ago

Tesla. I hear the owner is a bit…. much.

Alexk98
Alexk98
2 months ago
Reply to  DialMforMiata

On the bright side, as the new CEO you can at least fix a LOT of the questionable decisions. Also Elon only owns 13% so he has nowhere near enough control to overrule any new CEO that would theoretically replace him.

Simon M
Simon M
2 months ago
Reply to  DialMforMiata

On the other hand if you can keep the owner out of it you could fix so many problems so fast. Just walk into the design studio, say “we’re bringing back stalks” and wait for the cheering to die down.

Drew
Drew
2 months ago

I don’t care how bad the brand is, if they can pay me CEO money for a bit, I’ll suck it up and take the golden parachute.

If I had options, I think I’d avoid any of the fledgling brands that are probably just going to pin their existing failures on me. Lordstown, of course, would be an absolute train wreck, but I also don’t think I want to be the guy who is credited with sinking Canoo.

Last edited 2 months ago by Drew
Gee See
Gee See
2 months ago
Reply to  Drew

I got a friend who works as “stand in” CEO for tech companies that are being wind down. He is compensated enough to own private jets even without the said golden parachutes. It is a niche job. It doesn’t really matter the reputation of the company, since it is more of a caretaker role than anything, in a few months no one will care / remember anyways.

Last edited 2 months ago by Gee See
Drew
Drew
2 months ago
Reply to  Gee See

Sounds like a heck of a gig, though really tough to get into, I’d assume.

Gee See
Gee See
2 months ago
Reply to  Drew

He started off in tech, got an MBA and started one of the gigs and he kept doing it. We joked the Herman Miller chairs have to be sold to liquidators (pretty sure that’s how HM thrive for so many years) somehow and someone has to turn off the lights. It is just part of the life cycle of corporations these days, someone has to do it.

I don’t think there is any hate for the CEOs, it is just business.

Last edited 2 months ago by Gee See
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