Boschetti is a 'half CEO'
Giancarlo Boschetti's official title is managing director and general manager of Fiat Auto - or president and CEO, in the US style. But in reality, Boschetti is just a 'half CEO.'
The direct supervision of new products and international operations is the responsibility of Fiat SpA CEO and Fiat Auto Chairman Paolo Cantarella. That was also the case during the time of Roberto Testore, Boschetti's predecessor. Testore resigned in December.
In addition, Boschetti reports to Cantarella not only at group level, but also within Fiat Auto. Boschetti is the former head of Fiat's truck unit Iveco.
According to internal documents published by the Italian business magazine Il Mondo, Boschetti's 'powers are exercised, only for internal organization purposes, in a position underneath [subordinate to] Chairman Paolo Cantarella.'
Fiat chiefs show their faith
Fiat SpA President Paolo Fresco and CEO Paolo Cantarella are betting heavily on their company's relaunch plan by buying more than E3.5 million of Fiat stock.
'If someone believes in something, he has to show he does,' Fresco said. 'I believe in [our relaunch plan] and I'm putting on the table everything I've earned [from Fiat].'
Analysts estimate Fresco is investing about E3 million. Meanwhile, Cantarella asked to transform the variable portion of his compensation into shares, equivalent to a stock purchase of more than E500,000.
Fiat SpA shares recently reached their lowest level in 10 years at less than E14. They peaked at E35 in March 2000, just before the strategic alliance between Fiat Auto and General Motors was announced.
Daewoo touts profitability
Daewoo Motor Chairman Lee Jong Dae believes a final deal can be struck soon with General Motors.
'Our profitability is the key,' said Lee. 'We reported our first operational profit on May 10 last year, and two weeks later GM submitted its proposal. Daewoo is now making a monthly operating profit of over 10 billion won (E8.6 million). And the labor union has changed its position. You don't hear anti-GM protests anymore. Now they want GM.'
Lee said Ford withdrew from negotiations with Daewoo 'because it couldn't see a profit or any profit potential.'
He added: 'There were union strikes, and at the time Daewoo was losing 50 billion won a month. And so they walked away.'
To make Daewoo more attractive to potential purchasers, 'we cut costs to the bone,' Lee said.
'And when I let go 1,700 workers last year, I came under a lot of pressure from politicians and other directions.
'But I said, 'Do you want to cut the work force by a third, or do you want the company to shut down and everyone loses their job?' That's what I told everyone who opposed our plan. Our company has reached rock bottom in the world market, and we have nowhere to go but up.'
Respect for Renault styling
Some critics say Renault has gone too far in its design of the Avantime, Vel Satis and the next Megane and Espace. But the French carmaker's radical new styling direction earns grudging support from J Mays, Ford Motor Co.'s chief designer.
'You have to admire it if consumers buy into the avant-garde and connection to French culture,' said Mays. 'It may be hard to digest Renault's design language, because it is pretty radical. It's very high risk, and I wouldn't feel comfortable doing it with the Ford brand. You have to have done your homework if you are going to be so far out there, because it can bring more questions than answers.'
Smart comments in USA
It's a good thing for Smart that more people don't watch live congressional debates on cable TV in the USA.
Last month, Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott criticized DaimlerChrysler's two-seat city car as the kind of unsafe, impractical econobox that Americans would have to drive if lawmakers passed sharply higher fuel-economy standards.
'I don't want every American to have to drive this car,' he said on camera. Folks in DaimlerChrysler's Washington office weren't worried about Lott's comments. Said spokesman Stuart Schorr: 'It was one of the more comical moments' of the fuel-economy debate.