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10 Most Interesting and Influential People in the Auto Industry

Like any other industry, the automotive business has visionary leaders, leaders and disruptors. These are the people who go out and pave the way, or at least create much of the news we report.

Lee Woo Hyun
Hyundai designer Woohyun Lee created the look of the Ioniq 6.

They may not like everyone, but they are (or should be) everyone talking about heading into 2023.

Lee Woo Hyun
The designers of the Hyundai Ioniq 6 have made a bold statement with a look that neither derives from nor follows the currents of modern passenger cars. He has been with Hyundai since his 2015 and previously designed his Ioniq 7 concept SUV. In an industry full of celebrity designers, expect more great things from this young artist for a long time to come.

Michael Simcoe
General Motors recently promoted Michael Simcoe to Senior Vice President of Global Design, a new position effective January 1st. Under Simcoe’s leadership, GM Design has achieved some real highlights, including his Buick Wildcat concept and his Cadillac Celestiq, his upcoming Buick Electra EV. and Lyriq, and the GMC Hummer EV.

GM EVs Design Michael Simcoe's GM EVP
On January 1, GM’s Michael Simcoe became the company’s senior vice president of global design.

Other groundbreaking vehicles include the current-generation Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, the company’s first mid-engined Corvette. Simcoe’s leadership is a compelling blend of GM’s heritage reimagined for the next era of automotive.

Max Verstappen
F1 has a new king for 2022. Yes, he won the championship in his 2021 as well, but that narrow win was tainted by poor refereeing. This year, he won his 15 races and finished the season with 454 points, while second-placed Charles Leclerc scored his 308 points. Red Bull arguably had the best car in the field, but F1 cars aren’t self-driving. Verstappen may not be the most likeable driver on the grid, but he’s put on the show in 2022.

WIM: Beth Paletta Pagoda
Co-founder and owner of the Paletta Autosport IndyCar team, Beth Paletta once headed FCA’s SRT racing program.

Beth Paletta
Previously director of marketing and operations for Stellantis’ SRT and motorsport divisions, Paletta now leads her IndyCar team with the goal of bringing more women into motor racing at all levels and in all disciplines. I’m here. Teams under Paletta’s leadership have won IMSA, the Trans-Am, the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and the Monster Energy Cup her championship with her NASCAR team her Penske.

Akio Toyoda
Toyota’s president has sought some criticism for the company’s slow adoption of a full EV driveline.

Akio Toyoda and BEV
Toyota President Akio Toyoda continues to oppose a full transition to EVs.

Once a darling of the auto industry for developing Toyota’s groundbreaking hybrid drivetrain, Toyoda found himself and his company under tremendously bitter criticism. What he did next shows his mettle. He stood up and made a compelling case for hybrid technology, stating that in a battery-constrained business environment, it would be more environmentally sound for him to plug in multiple plug-in hybrids than to build one of his EVs. I pointed out that In a contentious political environment, it took an extraordinary amount of courage.

RJ Scaringe
Among the upstart EV makers, Rivian is widely believed to be the most likely to follow Tesla. Its CEO, Robert “RJ” Scaringe, has pricked a major automaker in maintaining Rivian’s independence. In fact, they offer customers a ton of trucks, but many other EV startups struggle to break into the market. I have a Ph.D. In mechanical engineering, Scaringe brings an engineering focus to his Rivian and the business as a whole.

The story of RJ Scaringe
Rivian Founder and CEO RJ Scaringe’s company is focused on consumer products.

Elon Musk
Elon Musk is perhaps the most controversial figure in the auto industry. Some die-hard fans look up to his CEO of Tesla as the hero who disrupted the entire auto industry, while others lament him as a thug and bully. Recently, his Twitter extracurricular activity has led to a dizzying drop in the value of Tesla stock, putting both his fortune and company leadership in jeopardy. Is he an example to follow or a lesson in arrogance? Only time will tell.

Mask smiling at cyber rodeo
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been in the spotlight lately.

Roy Goody
Roy Goudy is a senior principal engineer at the Nissan Technical Center in Farmington, Michigan, working on vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology.

He is driven by a passion for safety and reducing road deaths. Nissan’s efforts have already shown promise in alerting drivers when a collision is imminent by telling the vehicle its location, speed and direction. Nissan already has more than 10 patents for him on this technology.

Vin Fast VF 8 Debut - Madam Thuy w VF8 - REL
Le Thi Thu Thuy, global chief executive of VinFast, said there will be 5,000 new cars in the US.

Josh Tavel
Tavel is GM’s executive chief engineer of battery-electric trucks and the man who designed both the Chevrolet Volt and the Cadillac ELR. This makes Tavel a proven leader in electrification. As GM prepares to launch his Chevrolet Silverado EV, Tavel is creating the future of his one of America’s most popular car segments.

Le Ti to Tui
VinFast CEO Thuy is one of the few female auto industry CEOs. Thuy brings the deep business background VinFast needs to enter the US, European and Chinese automotive markets from Vietnam. Thuy has been with Vingroup for some time and has worked in the fields of technology, finance, investment and international relations. Prior to that, she was vice president at Lehman She Brothers in Japan after she got her MBA.

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