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Top 7 Biggest Names in the Current Auto Industry You Need to Know

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People come and go from the limelight in the automotive industry like celebrities each with their 15 minutes of fame, but some names have persisted over the years and become power players in the market. If you don’t follow the inner working of the auto industry, make sure you at least know who these trade heavyweights are; they’re the ones setting the path for the future of vehicular transportation.

Note: these names and positions are current as of April 2017.


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Carlos Ghosn

Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of Renault-Nissan Alliance

7. Carlos Ghosn

Having worked for over 15 years to bring Nissan away from the brink of collapse, Carlos Ghosn has proven himself a heavyweight in the automotive industry. Infamous for taking on far too many roles than humanly possible, Ghosn has a Midas touch that brings success to the majority of his endeavors–such as the first affordable EV, the Nissan Leaf. Though he recently stepped down as CEO of Nissan, he still remains the CEO of Renault, the chairman of both brands plus Mitsubishi, and a force to be reckoned with.

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Carlos Tavares, chairman of the Managing Board of PSA, and Mary Barra, General Motors CEO

Carlos Tavares, chairman of the Managing Board of PSA, and Mary Barra, General Motors CEO

6. Carlos Tavares

Not a household name here in America, Carlos Tavares holds a powerful position in Europe as the Chairman of the Managing Board of PSA Peugeot Citroen. He recently entered our radars when his company obtained the Opel and Vauxhall brands from General Motors. You can expect to see much more of Tavares as he spreads PSA’s grip on Europe.

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EPA head Scott Pruitt

Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA

5. Scott Pruitt

Although not a businessperson like the rest of the people on this list, Scott Pruitt’s role and precedents as the head of the EPA are extremely influential on the automotive industry and its future. As the new Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, assuming office in February 2017, Pruitt has not yet left his mark on the automotive industry, but his views on climate change and the environment will undoubtedly affect the future of the vehicle production and eco-conscious overhauls.

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Ralph Gilles Head of design dodge Chrysler FCA corporate executive

Head of Design for FCA, Ralph Gilles

4. Ralph Gilles

Fan of the Chrysler 300? Love the last years of the Viper? Worship the Hellcat? Then you have Ralph Gilles to thank for that. A major player in FCA’s best products over the past years, Gilles used to be Dodge’s CEO, then the CEO of Chrysler’s SRT brand, and is now the Head of Design for Fiat-Chrysler. He’s pretty much the reason anything cool is coming out of FCA.

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FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne

3. Sergio Marchionne

A chronic businessman and never-say-die executive, Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is notorious for his ongoing attempts to merge with other automaker groups like GM and Volkswagen. While his efforts have not yet been successful, it’s a safe bet that you’ll keep hearing his name a lot in the news. In the meantime, he’ll continue to juggle his other roles as CEO of Ferrari, CEO of the Chrysler Group, and Chairman at other non-vehicle businesses.

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Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO of Tesla

2. Elon Musk

If there’s one name on this list you probably already recognize, it’s Elon Musk. Famous for co-founding Tesla and infamous for his attempt to establish interplanetary transportation, Musk is known for stirring things up in the transportation industry. His wild claims and unorthodox plans have earned him a reputation, but his affect on the electric vehicle market–with the release of the revolutionary all-electric Tesla Model S–is undeniable.

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general motors chairman and ceo mary barra

General Motors chairman and CEO Mary Barra

1. Mary Barra

Mary Barra isn’t just a superstar because she’s the first female CEO of a major global automaker (General Motors); she’s also leading the company to success following its painful series of safety recalls. Winner of numerous leadership awards and noted as one of the most influential women in the world, Barra has led GM to a state far from the disaster it was in post-bailout when she took over. There’s a reason all eyes are on General Motors–and that reason is Mary Barra.

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  • Tim ShultsContributor

    Tim Shults is the President of the Shults Auto Group. In his spare time he likes to play golf and spend time with his four daughters.