The surprise choice as CEO of Honda Motor leapfrogged a level of management to succeed Takanobu Ito, bringing with him broad international experience and insights into the critical U.S. and Chinese markets. (Another abrupt entrance at Honda: designer Jon Ikeda taking over as general manager of Acura.)
We said hello to ...
- The long-dormant German brand, now backed by Chinese automaker Beiqi Foton Motor and led by Daimler veteran Ulrich Walker, introduced its first model in 54 years, the BX7, an SUV aimed at China.
- Ford's luxury brand split with the split-wing grille and showed off a new front-end look on the Continental Concept at the New York auto show and the freshened MKZ in Los Angeles.
- A high-performance setting and battery combo for the Tesla Model S promised acceleration of 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds, 0.4 second faster than the Holy profanity!-inducing Insane Mode. Both Spaceballs-themed improvements kept Tesla fans salivating while they waited for the Model X crossover, which arrived at last in September.
- And what an entrance! Ford stunned the media and stole the show in Detroit with its 600-hp supercar secretly developed in a basement storage room of its Product Development Center. The car will cost about $400,000.
- Everyone except Apple has been talking about the company's electric-car initiative, code-named Project Titan, since February, when The Wall Street Journal nailed down what had seemed like an improbable rumor. The project reportedly employs hundreds of people, many of them alumni of major automakers and suppliers.
- They're like a touch screen without the touching. The gesture controls in BMW's latest 7 series allow drivers to perform a handful of infotainment and phone commands with the wave of a hand or point of a finger. Other automakers are watching closely.
Hyundai's luxury brand was slow to arrive, but in a few ways, it's already a step ahead of nearly 30-year-old Acura, with a clear naming structure, a design language, global ambitions and a product plan based on rear-wheel-drive platforms.
In 2003, Gilleland was a field operations manager at Scion helping to get Toyota's youth-oriented arm off the ground. In September, he returned as head of the brand, just as it got a pair of new cars to sell.
He needs no intro, but as CEO of Google's self-driving-car project, Krafcik takes on a new challenge: creating common ground between the innovative minds of both Silicon Valley and Detroit.
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