Op­ti­mism a pre­vail­ing force

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page - Cook­ing with gas, Page 6

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.

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