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Old 22nd October 2011, 20:40   #1
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Default Isn't it time India had "petrolhead CEO's" to head our car companies??

Recently i happened to read (in a very, very old issue) of Autocar UK about Richard Parry-Jones or RPJ as he was popularly known.
For the uninitiated Richard Parry-Jones (now retired) was the global product development head of Ford, and gave birth to gems like the 1998 Ford Focus, the Mondeo, the iconic Ford Sierra, the Ford Ka, Ford Puma etc ( you can read more about him at: Richard Parry-Jones - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This set me thinking. Do we, in India, till date, have car company CEO's,as passionate as RPJ ?? And if we had would'nt the indian automotive scene been better off??

A "petrolhead CEO's" or PD (product development heads), concentrates on delivering a product which "drives, feels & goes like no other" .
Please don't mistake this that "petrolhead CEO's" have to deliver products that has to have 250+bhp, 6 cylinders, 6-inch diameter turbo's and be capable of laying kilometer long black lines of burnt rubber when the right pedal is floored !

Rather they should be delivering cars which should paste a "mile - wide - smile" on your face when you go driving down to your office or to the neighbourhood store. Power is not the issue here, even "40-odd-bhp-well-sorted-out-hatchbacks" can achieve this handling nirvana ( Remember the original carb fed Mini's)

In India do we yet have such genuine "petrol-in-the-blood-CEO's"?
Don't you think if we had such "passionate CEO's" the Indian auto scene would have been better off? That they would have been able to create cars in their product range irrespective of bhp figures that are a joy to drive??
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Old 22nd October 2011, 20:44   #2
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Default Re: Isn't it time India had "petrolhead CEO's" to head our car companies??

Mr Siddhartha Lal (sp?) of Enfield comes to mind, a rider himself, IINM.
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Old 22nd October 2011, 20:51   #3
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Default Re: Isn't it time India had "petrolhead CEO's" to head our car companies??

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Mr Siddhartha Lal (sp?) of Enfield comes to mind, a rider himself, IINM.


also Rajiv Bajaj . Look what he did to what was essentially a scooter company!

Venu Srinivasan: TVS Supra, Shogun, Fiero, Apache RTR...

But what about car companies...??
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Old 22nd October 2011, 20:52   #4
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I just made a FB post on a similar thought.


How many of us would buy a car with a stonker of an engine and basic features like aircon, power windows, airbags, abs and nothing else with a sticker price of under 10L.

It doesnt have to be 250bhp and a zillion NM or torque. An eg that comes to mind is the mazda mx5 and honda s2000. ( not for the price).

Would you buy a jazz with a civic engine or a swift with a tuebo charged sx4 engine? I would.
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Old 22nd October 2011, 20:54   #5
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Default Re: Isn't it time India had "petrolhead CEO's" to head our car companies??

I guess MR Ratan tata Also fits the criterion perfectly . He is passionate about TATA being a Global player in auto industry and done everything in the rule book to be on called a true petrol head .
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Old 22nd October 2011, 21:00   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HKap View Post
I just made a FB post on a similar thought.

How many of us would buy a car with a stonker of an engine and basic features like aircon, power windows, airbags, abs and nothing else with a sticker price of under 10L.

It doesnt have to be 250bhp and a zillion NM or torque. An eg that comes to mind is the mazda mx5 and honda s2000. ( not for the price).

Would you buy a jazz with a civic engine or a swift with a tuebo charged sx4 engine? I would.
Right you are. Don't forget the LOTUS'es , the original Mini, the Mk-1 VW Golf, the 1st gen Toyota MR-2. All were bantam weight affordable, practical vehicles.

In India, the mass mass market OEM that comes to mind is Maruti that tried with the original SWIFT and did it succeed !

The SWIFT successfully changed MSIL's image from a maker of humdrum econo-reliable-hatchbacks to that of a company capable of delivering dynamically efficient , stylish, practical and wallet friendly cars.

Quote:
Originally Posted by .sushilkumar View Post
I guess MR Ratan tata Also fits the criterion perfectly . He is passionate about TATA being a Global player in auto industry and done everything in the rule book to be on called a true petrol head .
Agree. RNT S'aab is a petrolhead at heart. The problem is his passenger car business unit is saddled by too many "commercially minded" bean counters and managers who cannot differentiate an onion from a pinion. Some of then dont know how to drive also

If RNT Sir seriously goes for a TML product 7 brand overhaul (TML desperately needs a gung-ho brand manager) then the results will be spectacular!

TML has the resources, the infrastructure and RNT Sir's intent.
It had several gems, way back ( i dont remember the year , maybe it was 2004-2005) a 125 bhp Indica was developed (it was driven by Hormazd Sorabjee - Autocar India, editor ACI, as a double zero car in an indian rally)

Last edited by Amartya : 23rd October 2011 at 10:54. Reason: Please use the Edit post feature when posting again within 20 minutes.Also, use the multi-quote feature to quote multiple posts.
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Old 22nd October 2011, 21:37   #7
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Default Re: Isn't it time India had "petrolhead CEO's" to head our car companies??

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( i dont remember the year , maybe it was 2004-2005) a 125 bhp Indica was developed (it was driven by Hormazd Sorabjee - Autocar India, editor ACI, as a double zero car in an indian rally)
A 300 BHP race spec Indica in Red color was also developed.

IMO,Tata is focused on producing economical cars which is why it compromises on quality. Again on power front,it focuses more on FE front.
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Old 22nd October 2011, 21:43   #8
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Default Re: Isn't it time India had "petrolhead CEO's" to head our car companies??

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A 300 BHP race spec Indica in Red color was also developed.
Yes. The Indica Silhouette. However the thing is none of TML's cars have taut and chirpy handling. VISTA , MANZA, even the Indy eV2's, CS's have lots of space, economy etc...but they do not feel special, especially when you drive them down the twisties - the way a Swift , even an old Zen feels.
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Old 23rd October 2011, 10:15   #9
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Default Re: Isn't it time India had "petrolhead CEO's" to head our car companies??

Forget being Petrolheads, the last company where I worked, many biggies there did not know how to seat in a proper driving position (leave aside good driving skills), also there were some who could not distinguish between a MM and a CJ look !

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Old 23rd October 2011, 13:37   #10
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Default Re: Isn't it time India had "petrolhead CEO's" to head our car companies??

Quote:
Originally Posted by .sushilkumar View Post
I guess MR Ratan tata Also fits the criterion perfectly . He is passionate about TATA being a Global player in auto industry and done everything in the rule book to be on called a true petrol head .
In one of his interviews long back, I remember him saying that his Jaguar (forgot the model) was his favorite car. Later he goes on to own the brand itself .
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Old 23rd October 2011, 14:32   #11
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Default Re: Isn't it time India had "petrolhead CEO's" to head our car companies??

I dont think Tata would fill a petrolhead CEO description - He may be passionate about cars. A pertrolhead CEO would have a hands on approach about developing cars not only in just approving designs and features and they are in short supply around the world, except in smaller brands

Quote:
Originally Posted by SPIKE ARRESTOR View Post
Forget being Petrolheads, the last company where I worked, many biggies there did not know how to seat in a proper driving position (leave aside good driving skills), also there were some who could not distinguish between a MM and a CJ look !

Spike
So your current company is not MM?
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Old 23rd October 2011, 14:35   #12
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Default Re: Isn't it time India had "petrolhead CEO's" to head our car companies??

You guys are confusing passion with process.

Passion is important yes, but with modern manufacturing, the process ensures quality. I don't see why QC is much worse in Tata than Maruti. Passion at the top is okay, but afaik its also the process that helps maruti get where they are. Here's a story i broadly recall from a friend:

A friend was once supervising the assembly of a newer iteration of an hatchback as part of their manufacturing setup teams. There was one set of mounting (?) bolts that had not come for the new model, and the Jap guy wasn't there, so in order to finish their work - they quietly machined the existing model's mounting bolt and fitted it in the 10 or so test cars. Next morning, the Jap apologised profusely for not having supplied the said bolts, but realized to his horror the jugad that had been done.

My friend and his team worked well past midnight to replace those bolts in every single car.

You cannot beat that level of process orientation with just passion - in a chalta hai country like ours. IMNSHO.

PS: A CEO that gets down to designing automobiles is just meddling in the job of the designers. May work with Jobs - not everyone else. A CEO's job is to set the business on autopilot and help everyone under him realize their potential!

Last edited by phamilyman : 23rd October 2011 at 14:37.
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Old 23rd October 2011, 15:26   #13
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Default Re: Isn't it time India had "petrolhead CEO's" to head our car companies??

Quote:
Originally Posted by arjab View Post
Yes. The Indica Silhouette. However the thing is none of TML's cars have taut and chirpy handling. VISTA , MANZA, even the Indy eV2's, CS's have lots of space, economy etc...but they do not feel special, especially when you drive them down the twisties - the way a Swift , even an old Zen feels.
Wasnt that project handled by Coimbatore based Jayem engineeing (for TML) ?

Coming back to the discussion thread, the definition of 'Petrolhead' in itself is worthy of a debate. Does the word describe someone passionate about automobiles ? Or does a person need to have sound technical knowledge along with the passion to qualify as one ? And will a Pertolhead necessarily be a good CEO for an Auto manufacturer? Im not so sure but it surely is a good starting point I suppose if one were to list prerequisites.

McMillans describes a Pertolhead as .. ' someone who is very interested in cars or motor racing. Thats quite a broad brush isnt it ?

Ratan Tata and Anand Mahindra certainly qualify on this basis and I guess so will most of the CEOs of leading 2 and 4 wheeler conglomerates.
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