Optimism a prevailing force
THIS is a busy time for car company chiefs. The Bracks report on the motor industry is expected to be tabled by the Federal Government today, many companies are battling a slump in sales and some have been hosting the big chiefs from head office. General Motors’ vice-president of research and development and strategic planning, Larry Burns, has been at Fishermans Bend, talking up the future for GM and about the challenges in the global car business. We’ll have more on him next week. Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche landed from the Olympics in Beijing to celebrate the 50th birthday of Mercedes-Benz in Australia. He even managed a good-natured jibe at our national obsession with Vegemite. More from him, too, next week. And then there is Hisakazu Imaki, the chairman of Mazda and a man with a quiet dignity that disguises his absolute determination to make his brand among the best in the world. Imaki has seen good and bad times at Mazda, but believes the brand is tracking well for the 21st century with everything from hybrids and hydrogen-engine technology to advanced design and new models to drive it forward. He is confident Mazda will prosper despite global warming and the energy crisis. Like the other trumps, he forecasts a range of solutions. But he makes it clear Mazda is concentrating on hydrogen for the short and medium term, at least until plug-in electric cars become a workable solution. Imaki is optimistic about the future of cars. And it is something he shares with Burns and Zetsche. ‘‘The automobile will not end with our generation. I believe the industry can overcome these new challenges,’’ Imaki says.
Belief: Mazda’s Hisakazu Imaki is confident his company will prosper.