Geely chairman Li Shufu voted 'Man of the Year' by Europe's largest automotive jury

Geely chairman Li Shufu voted 'Man of the Year' by Europe's largest automotive jury

Li Shufu, founder of Geely, has been named "MANBEST 2017" by the largest independent automotive jury in Europe, representing 630 million readers.

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The AUTOBEST GALA 2018 saw 31 nations gather at the European motoring jury's annual awards for a glittering ceremony in Salzburg's historic Karl Böhm Saal this week.

With 31 countries represented, AUTOBEST is the largest independent motoring Jury in Europe. No less than 95% of the European population is represented by the jury's many international motoring media outlets.

The "MANBEST 2017" honour was awarded to Mr. Li Shufu, the Founder and Chairman of Geely Holding Group. Starting from a humble Chinese village with a small refrigerator business, Chairman Li continues to build his empire with an expansive and growing automotive group, integrating leading brands from across the globe that include Volvo Cars, Proton, Lotus and London Taxi. The group has also embarked on the launch of a revolutionary approach to the car market with the new Lynk & Co brand – which is already established as a top seller in China, just weeks after going on sale. More recently, the group completed the acquisition of Terrafugia, a remarkable startup for flying cars from California.

Commenting on the award, Founder and Chairman of AUTOBEST, Mr. Dan Vardie, said: "Li Shufu is a great example of a visionary in the automotive industry, proving that with the right strategy, determination and bravery, success will follow. Mr. Li and Geely are the first Chinese winners in the 17 years of AUTOBEST awards, but I do not think they will be the last. Our jury of 31 leading automotive product journalists are a very tough panel, and it shows how far China and Geely has come in this industry in terms of quality, engineering, design, technology and clever marketing to win over these seasoned motoring critics. Huge congratulations to Mr. Li and all at Geely and its brands."

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars announces new Director of Engineering

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars announces new Director of Engineering

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has announced the appointment of Dr. Mihiar Ayoubi as Director of Engineering from March 1, 2018.

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Ayoubi joins Rolls-Royce from the BMW Group with over 20 years' experience in a broad range of engineering positions. He is currently Head of Concepts, Architectures and Integration and has previously headed departments in acoustics and vibration, dynamics development, chassis control systems, drivetrain development, all-wheel drive and driver assistance systems. He is also very familiar with Rolls-Royce, having been involved with the engineering concept for New Phantom.

Of Syrian descent, Ayoubi moved to Germany in 1985 to study engineering, joining BMW Group in 1997. He holds a Degree and Doctorate in Control Systems Engineering and Applied Artificial Intelligence from the technical University of Darmstadt. He is married and has three children.

Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, said, "I am delighted to welcome Dr. Mihiar Ayoubi as our new Director of Engineering. Mihiar is an exceptionally talented engineer and follows in the esteemed footsteps of the company's founding father and first engineer, Sir Henry Royce."

Ayoubi replaces Dr. Philip Koehn who has left the company to pursue other interests.

Xtrac appoints Joe Greenwell CBE as chairman

Xtrac appoints Joe Greenwell CBE as chairman

Xtrac have announced that Joe Greenwell CBE (pictured) is to be appointed non-executive chairman with effect from July 2018.

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Having recently joined the main board as one of three new non-executive directors, Greenwell will take over the role from Peter Digby, who becomes company president. Xtrac's chief executive, Adrian Moore will continue to head up the executive team responsible for day-to-day operations.

Joe Greenwell has most recently served as chief executive of the UK government's Automotive Investment Organisation established in 2013 and now part of the Department for International Trade. He is also chair of the RAC Foundation and has served as a board member of the UK government backed High Value Manufacturing catapult since 2012. Greenwell's 45-year career in the motor industry has included many senior roles, including chairman and CEO of Jaguar Cars before being appointed chairman of Ford of Britain. In recognition of his services to the automotive industry Greenwell was awarded a CBE in the Queen's birthday honours list in 2011.

Working alongside Digby, both the chairman and president roles will focus on Xtrac investing in new equipment and additional staff to increase capacity and improve efficiency to further strengthen the core motorsport business, with an additional focus in transferring applicable technologies to the wider high performance automotive sector. This latest significant investment follows a buyout of Xtrac by Inflexion Private Equity announced in September.

Joe Greenwell said: "I've followed Xtrac with interest from its first ever participation in The UK Manufacturer of the Year Awards, when I was on the judging panel back in 2010. Despite being a new entrant, Xtrac took top honours in the Advanced Manufacturing Category. I was not surprised to see Xtrac returning again to be crowned the overall winner in 2014; it's an archetypal up-to-the-minute manufacturing company that sets a benchmark for other SMEs to follow – operating in a sector forming a key part of the UK government's industrial strategy."

Skills drive accelerates growth at ElringKlinger

Skills drive accelerates growth at ElringKlinger

North East of UK based global automotive supplier Elring Klinger has kickstarted the next phase of an ambitious growth plan with the extension of a training scheme to upskill its workforce.

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In 2016 Redcar-based ElringKlinger (GB) announced it was making a significant investment in a training programme for its staff – part of a strategy to double the size of the business by 2020.

Delivered in partnership by Gateshead College and Amacus, the programme includes leadership and management training, Performing Manufacturing Operations (PMO) apprenticeships and bespoke training to develop and upskill senior operatives.

Forty-five staff have completed their apprenticeship and the company recognised their success at a recent celebration ceremony. Other staff are nearing completion of a level 5 leadership and management programme designed to equip them with higher level skills and attributes.

Phase two of the PMO programme has already commenced, with another 26 employees developing further skills that will provide essential skills and knowledge of how to work safely and effectively on the shop floor.

The company is committed to upskilling the current workforce and continuing to recruit skilled operatives who can serve a pipeline of new work, including a £5 million ($6.94 million) contract to build catalyst and exhaust heat shields for car giant Ford's latest engines.

Ian Malcolm, managing director at ElringKlinger (GB), said: "It's great to be working with Amacus and Gateshead College on this large-scale, company-wide training programme. Developing talent is crucial to our expansion and includes the upskilling of existing staff and recruitment of new people with the right aptitudes and knowledge of our industry.

"Last year we grew annual revenues to more than £30 million and, as new work comes in, we need to ensure we have the skills to complete it to our usual high standard. The training programme enables us to achieve this. It is tailored specifically to our business goals and carried out onsite with minimal disruption to our day-to-day operations."

Christine Hall, managing director at Amacus – a specialist in leadership and management training – said: "We have a strong track record in helping businesses such as ElringKlinger build their skills base so they can remain strong, productive and competitive. It's encouraging to see so many businesses value skills development and both Amacus and Gateshead College are playing a major role in helping key industry sectors improve their performance and tackle key skills shortages.

"We are thrilled to be working with ElringKlinger to deliver a training solution that will ultimately benefit the wider automotive industry – a key driver of economic growth in this region."

Formed in 2003, Amacus is a subsidiary of Gateshead College and operates throughout the North East of England with offices in Hartlepool, Bishop Auckland, Middlesbrough and Stockton. Working in partnership with Gateshead College enables both organisations to provide a strong training offer to dozens of employers across the region.

Zac Aldridge, assistant principal, curriculum Gateshead College, said: "Bringing our specialist expertise together enables us to combine the college's wide-ranging vocational training programmes together with Amacus' quality courses in leadership and management and employability. Together we create customised workforce development packages that are helping companies acquire the skills they need to support their business performance."

(Pictured, from left to right Christine Hall of Amacus, Ian Betsho of Gateshead College, Theanna De Sancho of ElringKlinger and production operator/ PMO apprentice Kelly Phillips)

Mitsuteru Tanigawa announced as new Falken Tyre Europe CEO

Mitsuteru Tanigawa announced as new Falken Tyre Europe CEO

Tanigawa joined Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI) in 1980 and has developed a significant knowledge of the rubber industry with particular expertise in tyres. Past experience includes being director of SRI's Indonesian tyre manufacturing as well as leading the sales activities in China from 2005 to 200, a period of transformation in China's development.

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Since 2012, Tanigawa has worked for SRI's Sports division that develops and manufactures sporting goods such as golf clubs and tennis racquets. He was mainly responsible for the golf brands XXIO and SRIXON, leading to a deep passion for the sport. In March 2017, four years after first becoming a board member of the division, Tanigawa was appointed managing executive officer.

Starting on January 2018, Tanigawa will lead Falken's expanding European operations from its headquarters outside Frankfurt. Alongside the growth in OE business for the Falken brand, Tanigawa will oversee the expansion of Falken's distribution network, that has accelerated thanks to the acquisition of Micheldever Tyre Services in the UK in 2017.

"It is a huge honour to lead this exciting part of the SRI business," says Tanigawa. "Falken is still a young brand. Thanks to the efforts of the dynamic team in Europe, it has become an established and trusted brand for consumers and the automobile industry. I am looking forward to sharing my experiences with my colleagues in Europe and continuing to expand Falken's presence in the region."

Polestar appoints Hans Pehrson as new head of R and D and electric propulsion strategy

Polestar appoints Hans Pehrson as new head of R and D and electric propulsion strategy

Pehrson has worked for over 30 years within the automotive industry, including positions such as Technical Director for the Volvo C30 Electric – the first electric car of the Volvo Car Group, manager of Volvo Cars Electric Propulsion System Engineering and most recently supporting the London EV Company with the new London Taxi.

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Part of his role as Head of R&D will be responsibility for the Polestar electric propulsion strategy and he will be a member of the Polestar Management Team.

"I am very excited to join Polestar, a company in the forefront of technology and developing the electric cars that will be the future of the automotive industry, and where my passion lies. This important field is changing rapidly and I am really looking forward to being part of that development, and continuing to push the boundaries of new technology within electric vehicles," said Pehrson.

Thomas Ingenlath, Chief Executive Officer of Polestar, continued, "Hans Pehrson has been a driving force in electric vehicle technology and development within Volvo Cars since the first consideration of electric powertrains. To have Hans running Polestar's R+D team, and guiding the company's Electric Propulsion strategy, is a great step forward in our future as the Electric Performance brand."

The appointment of Hans Pehrson is a key part of the development of the new Polestar brand and the coming first model, the Polestar 1, a 600hp Electric Performance Hybrid Grand Touring Coupé with a range of 150km (99 miles) on pure electric power – the longest electric range of any hybrid in the world.

HELLA extends CEO Rolf Breidenbach's contract for five more years in management changes

HELLA extends CEO Rolf Breidenbach's contract for five more years in management changes

The shareholder committee of the HELLA GmbH & Co. KGaA voted to continue the collaboration with Dr. Rolf Breidenbach (54) as President and CEO for another five years.

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This will extend his CEO contract, originally running until January 31, 2019, until January 31, 2024. "Dr. Breidenbach has been a driving force in HELLA's development towards a globally positioned automotive supplier", said Manfred Wennemer, Chairman of the HELLA GmbH & Co. KGaA shareholder committee. "The shareholder committee is convinced that with Dr. Rolf Breidenbach at the top of the management board, HELLA is excellently prepared for seizing future opportunities and mastering any challenges on the way."

In addition to his previous functions, Dr. Breidenbach will as of immediately assume the management of the Lighting business division and therefore manage the entire Automotive Segment. At the same time, Dr. Frank Huber (37) will become the deputy managing director of the Lighting business division and a member of the HELLA management board as of April 1, 2018. Since September 2014, the vehicle and engine technician has been active in various management positions of the Lighting business division. Markus Bannert, who has managed the division up to now, will leave the company at his own request.

In addition to setting the course regarding staffing, the task definition of the management board will also be redefined. One change involves integrating the Automotive Sales corporate function into the Lighting and Electronics business divisions. Integrating company responsibilities into those business divisions is going to create synergies with the Product Centers while further strengthening sales activity efficiencies.

The management of the central sales activities, such as Marketing and Contract Management, will be assumed by Dr. Werner Benade (54), responsible for the Aftermarket & Special Applications business division at HELLA. The previous managing director of Automotive Sales, Dr. Matthias Schöllmann, will leave the company at his own request upon contract expiration at the end of March 2018.

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