Finding success stories in the European auto industry today isn't easy.
Most carmakers and suppliers are struggling in a market characterized by intense competition and relentless price pressure.
Yet we have identified 15 executives who have succeeded under often difficult circumstances.
Our 2004 Eurostars are managers who prove everyday that conviction and focus, a sound strategy, proper execution and the willingness to take risks can yield tremendous results.
This holds true for each of our Eurostars, who work in different positions at different automakers and suppliers. If anything, our Eurostars show that there are plenty of opportunities to thrive in Europe.
Whether they are increasing the profitability of a big car company, boosting the visibility of a model or expanding sales of a key automotive product, our 2004 Eurostars are winners.
Editors and reporters at Automotive News Europe enjoy selecting the Eurostars each year. We cover the industry day in and day out and the awards give us an opportunity to stop and say "Well done" to those who have excelled.
In association with Accenture, we are delighted to announce our 2004 selections.
Congratulations to all the 2004 Eurostars.
When Thierry Dombreval joined Toyota Motor Europe in January 2002, Japan's No. 1 carmaker already was enjoying a steady sales increase in Europe.
Franz-Josef Kortüm has pushed German supplier Webasto to become a leader in roof systems in Europe. Since starting with the company in 1994 and becoming chairman in 1999, he has proved he isn't afraid to take risks.
BMW CEO Helmut Panke is in an enviable position. He heads one of the world's smallest but most successful automakers. Panke succeeded Joachim Milberg in May 2002. Since then, he has emphasized internationalization.
Bernd Bohr is leading Robert Bosch's diesel drive, both in Europe and in the US. Diesel technology is crucial to Bosch. Analysts predict diesels will account for more than half of new-car sales in Europe by the end of next year and Bosch intends to keep leading this trend.
Alberto Bombassei is responsible for accelerating profit growth at a company whose main business is to help vehicles slow down. As head of Brembo, Bombassei last year boosted operating profit 13.2 percent on a 12 percent increase in sales.
Thierry Moulonguet was one of the first Renault executives, along with Carlos Ghosn, to move to Japan in 1999 to help turn around nearly bankrupt new alliance partner Nissan.
Gerhard Schuff is a rare find in the auto industry. He is a purchasing director with whom suppliers enjoy working. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Schuff has said he does not believe in radical price reductions on existing projects.
Tim Ellis isn't afraid to take a calculated risk. Volvo's global advertising director approved the brand's quirky "Mystery of Dalarö" multimedia campaign for the new S40 sedan.
Gerhard Stiegler has played a key role in the BMW X3's success. He is the project manager of the project for Magna Steyr, a contract coachbuilder in the Styrian region of Austria.
The Renault Megane is one of the most talked-about cars on the road. Its radical styling, first seen on models such as the Avantime and Vel Satis, has found its true home on the Megane. Carlos Tavares could be described as its father.
Few designers have devoted their careers to creating sports cars. Dutch-born Harm Lagaay is probably the most successful. In his 33-year design career, he worked 21 years for Porsche, retiring from the company in July.
Volvo's S40 sedan and V50 wagon are two of the most important cars in the company's history. Peter Ewerstrand was the man Volvo put in charge of the programs.
Carlos Ghosn knows how to make money in a stagnant market. Nissan more than doubled its operating profit in Europe to E359.3 million during the fiscal year ended March 31.
Audi is the shining star among Volkswagen group's brands and Martin Winterkorn aims to keep it that way. The Audi chairman and technical director's attention to detail has helped the brand compete with rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
If Michael Schumacher doesn't overtake you on the track, Ferrari's management will do it in the pits. That is the challenge facing all Formula One teams competing with Jean Todt's seemingly unstoppable squad.