Automotive News All Stars
CEO, ASIA: Takashi Yamanouchi, Former CEO, Mazda Motor Corp.
 
Yamanouchi ceded his role as Mazda's CEO in June, but not before returning the small, independent automaker to profitability after four years of red ink and handing it to his successor on solid footing for growth.
Yamanouchi, 68, remains chairman at Mazda, where he's seeing the rewards of key initiatives he oversaw during his four-year tenure as CEO.
Yamanouchi crafted Mazda's "alternative to premium" strategy to help the brand stand out from its mainstream competitors, and earn higher transaction prices with fewer incentives in the process.
Vehicles with Mazda's lightweight, fuel-saving Skyactiv technologies now account for more than two-thirds of monthly U.S. sales.
Engineering and manufacturing innovations behind Skyactiv have enabled Mazda to slash production costs, so it can make money selling Japan-built vehicles such as the Mazda6 and CX-5 overseas, even at what were formally profit-killing exchange rates of 80 to the dollar.