Names, faces and brands that left the stage in 2012
Industry sales continued to rebound, Volkswagen completed its acquisition of Porsche, and Honda and Toyota staged impressive comebacks in 2012. At the same time, names, faces and brands continued to exit the automotive landscape this year. A look back at some of the notable bold-faced names and brands that left the scene in 2012:
American Suzuki Motor Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November, announcing that it would stop selling vehicles in the United States. After nearly 30 years of trying to build a U.S. business model, Suzuki gave up. The company said it will maintain its U.S. motorcycle and marine-engine business units and continue to honor auto customers' warranties.
Mike Bannister, CEO of Ford Motor Credit Co. since 2004, retires at the end of the year. Bannister, 63, worked at Ford Credit for 39 years. His previous positions included president and COO of Ford Credit, president of Ford Credit International and chairman of Ford Credit Europe.
Ford Motor Co. CFO Lewis Booth retired April 1. Booth, 64,began his career with Ford in 1978 and along the way led the company's operations on three continents. Most recently as CFO, he was tenacious about paying down Ford's restructuring debt. He kept costs in check and held prices stable, allowing the company to survive and thrive without the benefit of a federal bailout — and to resume paying dividends.
Photo credit: JOE WILSSENS
Don Esmond began his career at Ford but retired this summer after 30 years at Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Esmond, 68, went out as senior vice president for automotive operations after having held several key jobs at critical times, including sales vice president for the launch of the Lexus brand and general manager of Toyota during the launch of the Scion brand and the first-generation Prius gasoline-electric hybrid.
High-profile marketer Joel Ewanick was shown the door at GM in July. Ewanick, 52, joined GM in 2010 after stints at Nissan North America and Hyundai Motor America. But as head of global marketing he handled a controversial sponsorship deal with the English soccer club Manchester United in a way that circumvented company policy.
In contrast to some flamboyant product development honchos, Derrick Kuzak was a quiet, unassuming leader who shied away from the limelight. A 30-plus-year Ford veteran, Kuzak, 61,retired as product development chief, but not before executing the mandate to design a One Ford plan to concentrate the company's global vehicles on a few platforms and eliminate much of the duplication of effort in Europe and North America.
Daimler had hoped its Maybach brand would challenge Rolls-Royce and Bentley for superluxury sales.
The Maybach brand had the dubious distinction of disappearing for the second time when production ended in August. Originally introduced as a premium brand in Germany in 1921, Maybach retired the first time in 1941 but was reintroduced by Daimler in 2002 as a super-luxury marque intended to compete with Rolls-Royce and Bentley. It didn't. Better luck next time.
GM Europe President Nick Reilly retired in March, ending a 37-year career with General Motors, much of it in senior management positions overseas. Reilly, 63, was dispatched back to Europe in 2009 to oversee a major restructuring at Opel and Vauxhall when GM decided not to sell its European operation after emerging from bankruptcy. Earlier, Reilly led the turnaround of the former Daewoo Motors in Korea, which GM bought in 2001.
Tom Stephens introduces the Cadillac Sixteen concept car's 32-valve engine -- dubbed XV16 -- with 1,000 horsepower in January 2003.
Photo credit: GM
Saab Cars North America
When GM sold Saab to Dutch sports car maker Spyker Cars as part of GM's restructuring, the Swedish carmaker's future seemed tenuous at best. The on-again, off-again efforts to secure financing and keep the factory running wreaked havoc on Saab's dealer network. After the Swedish factory failed, Saab Cars North America laid off 80 percent of its employees in January and prepared for liquidation. It was only a matter of time until dealerships had no more cars to sell.
Bona fide car guy Tom Stephens, 64, retired April 1, ending a 43-year career at GM. Stephens, an engineer known for his expertise in powertrains, rose to become vice chairman and chief technical officer, a new position in which he was responsible for the integration of advanced technology in GM cars and light trucks. Prior to that he was vice chairman for global product development from April 2009 through February 2011.