10 executives who changed the industry -- for better or worse
Akio Toyoda (left) and Norbert Reithofer
While he copes with the troubled European market, BMW AG's CEO, 56, is also pushing an aggressive green-vehicle agenda.
The automaker will emphasize recycled materials and provide for end-of-life recycling.
Toyota's president, 56, is leading the automaker's strong rebound from two crises -- unintended-acceleration allegations and the tragic 2011 earthquake and tsunami. For 2012, Toyota is poised to reclaim the top spot in global auto sales.
When he wasn't launching spaceships or planning to mine asteroids, Musk, the 41-year-old CEO of Tesla Motors, kept pushing forward the launch of Tesla's well-received Model S. And his effort to bypass the franchised-dealer system stirred up dealers.
The German automaker is looking like a juggernaut.
VW posted a record operating profit of $14.8 billion in 2011, and Winterkorn, its 65-year-old CEO, says it is likely to match that number this year, evidence that it seems to be quite capable of managing a broad array of brands.
Honda Motor Co.'s CEO, 59, launched a major overhaul of the company's drivetrains and devised new product. He ordered a quick redo of the Civic, resurrected the NSX sports car and jazzed up the Acura brand. Ito also unveiled a new target: global sales of 6 million vehicles by 2016.
After some states classified TrueCar's model as bird-dogging -- paying a third party to bring buyers to a dealership -- Painter, 44, retreated and rethought his plan. Before year end, he was back with a reformulated TrueCar.
Barra, 51, GM's top product development executive, pushed "front loading" of decisions on vehicles in development to avoid last-minute delays. And she streamlined GM's product development, flattening what had become a top-heavy structure.
Ewanick, 52, General Motors marketing czar, inked a $600 million sponsorship deal with Manchester United, a British soccer club. The coup brought him down amid allegations that he went over budget and improperly accounted for the cost. Shortly after signing it, Ewanick was out.
Farley's out-of-the-box thinking was on display this year in Ford's launch of the mid-sized Fusion, the biggest use yet of the automaker's social-media expertise. But perhaps the toughest challenge for the 50-year-old Farley will be as senior leader of the effort to revive the Lincoln brand.
With aggressive marketing and acquisitions, AutoTrader's 59-year-old CEO has built the site into a car-shopping behemoth that helps 30 million consumers research vehicles every month.