America has been in love with the automobile ever since the first Model T rolled off Henry Ford’s assembly line in 1908. At the height of its popularity, the Model T was manufactured in 20 countries across six continents. The Ford story certainly speaks to the importance we’ve always placed on innovation as a spark for business success, but it also reminds us that even a century ago Ford was faced with many of the same complex issues and risks that the automotive industry faces today.
Of course, yesterday’s love for the automobile and all that it represents burns just as brightly today. Even with a disruptive and challenging economy, the auto industry can boast some pretty impressive numbers. PwC’s Autofacts group is forecasting global light vehicle production to reach nearly 80 million units in 2012, and an astounding 108 million units by 2018. Perhaps most interesting is that 87% of assembly growth during this period will come from emerging markets like China, India, Russia and Brazil. Furthermore, with increasingly stringent global safety and emission standards, a whole host of new possibilities exist within the industry.
With so much opportunity down the road, we thought it made sense to dedicate an issue of Keyword to PwC alumni leading the changes in the automotive industry. We were excited to sit down with Rich Kramer, CEO of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, and ask about his strategy for growth both here in the US and abroad. In an extended interview, Richard Palmer, the CFO of Chrysler Group LLC, discusses the twists and turns of automobile manufacturing and the opportunities unlocked by his company’s recent merger with Fiat.
Proving that everything really is connected, two professionals— one from Detroit and one from India— talk about the roles sourcing, business transformation and technological advancement play in helping a leading Japanese company that’s located just outside Nashville, Tennessee, find global success. Meanwhile, five alumni, each representing a new generation of professional services talent share the unique roads they traveled to find new opportunity in a historic industry. And finally, a former PwC partner puts the pedal to the metal and describes life on the race track at speeds over 140 miles per hour.
I’m intrigued by this industry that has consistently adapted, innovated and driven down a winding path of success. I’m proud of the achievements of these alumni. I hope you enjoy reading their stories as much as I did.
Robert E. Moritz
US Chairman and Senior Partner