Nick Scheele, new COO of Ford Motor Co., will speak the evening of Jan. 15, and Patrick Le Quement, senior vice president of corporate design at Renault SA, will address the gala dinner Jan. 16.
Scheele was in his former position, group vice president for North America, just three months. The affable Englishman earned his position as CEO William Clay Ford Jr.'s right-hand man by turning around other Ford interests. From 1992 to 1999, Scheele resurrected the quality and reputation of Jaguar. Sales doubled during his reign at Jaguar Cars Ltd. In a short tenure as Ford of Europe chairman, he reorganized the company.
Ford Motor is faced with shrinking revenues - down $6 billion after nine months - a lowered credit rating, product recalls and employee lawsuits along with a $3 billion tab for the Firestone tire crisis.
Scheele's back-to-basics approach includes refocusing all operations on building top-quality vehicles. Other challenges for Scheele are to mend relationships with dealers and to cut costs on materials, marketing and product development.
In June, Scheele was awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth. He was awarded the Order of St. Michael and St. George for services to British exports.
Le Quement, the architect of Renault's brand image transformation, joined Renault in 1987 as vice president of industrial design. His vision and tolerance for risk spurred the development of several segment busters in the 1990s: the Twingo supermini, the Scenic minivan and the Kangoo mini sport-utility.
With the new Avantime, a radical mix of coupe and minivan, and the Vel Satis, to be launched next year, Le Quement started a new era.
Renault's slogan is "creator of automobiles.'' Its hope is that the Avantime and Vel Satis lure buyers of German luxury cars to Renault.
Le Quement was made a Knight of the Legion of Honour by the French government for his role in reintroducing "Frenchness" to Renault.
In August, Le Quement was a repeat winner of Automotive News Europe's Eurostar award.
Prior to joining Renault, he was director of advanced design and strategy at Volkswagen AG. From 1968 to 1985 he had design jobs in the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States with Ford Motor.