Leaf chief vehicle engineer, Nissan Motor Co.
Chosen because: Kadota took over as head of Nissan's team developing a range of alternative-fuel vehicles in 2000. The vehicles he created there were little more than experiments, seemingly destined to stay that way. But in 2007 he was told to create an EV for mass production, to be launched in 2010. That vehicle was the Leaf. The Leaf has been showered with accolades. It was named 2011 European Car of the Year and got a "Top Products of 2010" designation from Popular Mechanics. But Kadota, 54, won't be able to rest; Nissan plans three more electric vehicles by 2014.
Quote: "This is what we need to create -- an all-around player that surpasses gasoline vehicles, even with a century of development behind them."