1996: Jurgen Hubbert
Passenger car chief, Mercedes-Benz
In our words: “Unlike many captains of the car industry, Hubbert is self-critical and willing to learn from mistakes. But since the worst risk is to take no risk, Mercedes will continue to make controversial decisions.”
In his own words: “By concentrating on high-end products, this company would accelerate into a cul-de-sac. Why? Because buyers who can afford $75,000-plus status symbols are increasingly thin on the ground. Instead, we must move where the market goes, and that’s down.”
What happened next: Hubbert chaired the Mercedes Car Group portion of DaimlerChrysler until his retirement in 2005. The DaimlerChrysler experiment, meanwhile, ended in divorce in 2007 when Chrysler was sold to Cerberus Capital Management. Unfortunately, that experiment went even worse: Chrysler went bankrupt in 2009 and was saved thanks to the U.S. government’s auto bailout and a sale to Fiat. So far, that experiment has worked.