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The Ten Most Influential People In The Automotive Industry

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People are always more interesting than cars, and the car business is full of some truly fascinating movers and shakers. These are the ten people that have the power to make or break the auto industry.

10.) Travis Kalanick


To some of you, Uber might feel like a foreign app that you would never need or use, but the truth is, it’s on the edge of changing the automotive industry and public transportation industries for good. And guess who Uber’s CEO is? This guy.

They just need to work on being less scummy, that’s all.

Suggested By: Ryan Frew, Photo Credit: Dan Taylor via Wikipedia

9.) Harald Krüger


Being the CEO of a decently-large auto group like BMW will not only give someone the power of influence with other German auto groups, but also with automakers around the world. Reader DennyCraneDennyCraneDennyCrane can explain why he feels that Krüger is deserving of a spot on this list.

With cars like the i8 pushing the envelope of “affordable” “eco” performance cars, the i3 electric with (optional) gas range extender, oh and bonkers stuff like the X6M that seemed stupid when they announced it and is now being aped...

The Gran Coupes and whatnot are being aped despite the stupid name.

They’re pushing for carbon fiber to be on ordinary cars, not just the super high end stuff, and it’s working on cars like the i3.

A lot of stuff they’re working on making mainstream, and a lot of it seems successful.

Suggested By: DennyCraneDennyCraneDennyCrane, Photo Credit: dpa via

8.) Christian Von Koenigsegg


CVK has been setting industry standards and introducing new technology for years. With the all the different Koenigsegg tech that was thrown into the One:1, there’s no telling where the future of his company and the cars they’ll be making is headed. Not to mention he’s a truly nice, upfront and approachable guy.

Suggested By: George, Photo Credit: Koenigsegg

7.) Johan de Nysschen


After leaving Infiniti in 2014, Nysschen was appointed president of Cadillac and executive vice president at General Motors. He became the point man for Cadillac’s ongoing and turnaround. He faces tough competition from Japan and Europe, but his brand’s cars are a big part of the American renaissance.

Suggested By: Jared Rose, Photo Credit: Getty Images

6.) Ralph Gilles


Unlike some of the other people on this list, Ralph Gilles is great. He’s a down to earth, ballsy automotive designer turned executive and a true enthusiast. Without him, there’s a good chance some of FCA’s brands wouldn’t be what they are today. Or at least not producing some of the more batshit machines that roll out of their factories.

Suggested By: V6ChallyHellKitten, Photo Credit: Getty Images

5.) Jeremy Clarkson


Jeremy Clarkson is very possibly the most visible and most influential man working in auto journalism. When the official announcement came that Clarkson would not be able to return to Top Gear, I’m pretty sure I felt the ground shake. Clarkson’s effect on his viewers and enthusiasts around the world was and hopefully will continue to be endless.

I might even go to say he is a very POWERRRRRRRful man.

Suggested By: ICwater, Photo Credit: via Jalopnik

4.) Sergio Marchionne


Genius or in over his head? Regardless of what you think of Sergio Marchionne, he’s one of the most ambitious and most important people in the world of cars. One thing’s for sure — unlike many auto executives, he’s never boring.

Suggested By: ovjho, Photo Credit: Getty Images via Jalopnik

3.) Bernie Ecclestone


See that face? That stone-cold face? That’s the face of the Formula One as we know it. Through this man’s decisions and calls, he can change one of the world’s leading racing organizations as we know it. Because of how racing is used for testing and as an innovation tool throughout the industry and with engineering teams globally, a small change in F1 could have more of a ripple effect on the automotive world than you might expect.


Suggested By: 8695Beaters, Photo Credit: Getty Images via Jalopnik

2.) Mary Barra


Throughout GM’s ignition recall fiasco Mary Barra has been on the front lines fighting to keep her company on top of some thin ice. With appearances on talk shows and congressional hearings seeming almost regular, there isn’t another automotive CEO the general public has seen more of recently.

Suggested By: Lumpy44, I drove a 458 once., Photo Credit: AP

1.) Elon Musk


Just last week he surprised us all with a ludicrous update to the flagship Tesla Model S and as well as several other exciting announcements regarding the future of his company. This is the guy that has been referred to as the real-world’s Iron Man. If this is what he and his team are capable of in today’s world, I’m not sure I even want to see what the future holds.


Suggested By: InfinityAero , Photo Credit: Getty Images

Welcome back to Answers of the Day - our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day’s Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It’s by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!


Top Photo Credit: Getty Images