Who were the newsmakers of 2001?

Gary Cowger:

Cowger came from Opel in 1998 to repair GM’s U.S. labor relations. His reward: He now is president of GM North America. His job is to wring more efficiencies from GM manufacturing.

Bill Ford:

Henry’s great-grandson fired the CEO and took command. He promises that Ford Motor will go back to being an auto company. But he has to make painful cuts.

Carlos Ghosn:

His three-year Nissan Revival Plan sets the bar for corporate restructuring. Launched in late 1999, it already has exceeded the third-year targets and generated record profits.

John Lampe:

Lampe savagely fought Jacques Nasser in the Firestone tire catastrophe and fired Ford as a customer. His huge next job: Restore Firestone’s credibility and profitability.

Robert Lutz:

GM needed a product guy. In just four months, Lutz has energized the organization and started a re-examination of products and their development.

Jacques Nasser:

Nasser envisioned Ford Motor Co. as a global customer service company. But Ford is an auto company. Nasser was fired after 34 months as CEO.

Finbarr O’Neill:

Hyundai’s U.S. sales continue to soar — another 41.9 percent so far this year. Its success is due to more than O’Neill’s 10-year warranty; he leads the company.

Nick Scheele:

In July, Scheele was cutting costs at Ford of Europe. In August, he became group vice president of Ford North America. By October, he was COO of Ford Motor Co.

Rick Wagoner:

GM’s low-key CEO has empowered an energetic new group of top executives. Robert Lutz filled in the product void, and GM is putting the hurt on Big 3 rivals.

Ron Zarrella:

Now an ex-GMer, Zarrella had a big last hurrah: He blessed 0 percent financing. He returned to Bausch & Lomb after learning some painful lessons in the auto industry.

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