Chrysler Group President Stresses Need at SAE
Congress for "New Breed" of Engineers for Next Era of Automotive
Dieter Zetsche, president and chief executive officer of the Chrysler Group, paid homage to the legendary "car guys" of years past, such as Walter P. Chrysler, Gottleib Daimler and Soichiro Honda, but outlined a prescription for a new breed of car guy necessary toadapt and excel in a new market climate in order for a company to maintainproduct leadership within the automotive industry.Speaking to more than 1,200 engineers and industry executives at the 2003SAE World Congress, at Cobo Hall, in Detroit, Zetsche said, "In today'sautomotive world - - defined by a fast-paced market, rapidly advancingtechnology, complex regulations and ever-changing geo-politics - - naturalinstincts will not be enough."During his speech, Zetsche reflected on the importance of engineers torediscover their "inner car guy. There is no guarantee of success, rewardor happiness in our profession - - or in any other for that matter. But,every now and again, we need to relight the flame. We're going to need anew breed of car guy...for a new era. That new car 'guy' is as likely tobe defined by women engineers as it is by men."According to Zetsche, two critical ingredients that will define this newbreed are passion and science - - "a passion for the product, balanced withthe knowledge and discipline of engineering and science."He added that both are important to be successful: The passion fordeveloping, building, marketing and selling great vehicles must be balancedwith the "hard science" foundation that helps prevent mediocrity orfailure.Speaking about the Chrysler Group, Zetsche said, "Our renewals have alwaysbeen fueled when we've gone back to our roots...recaptured our passion forengineering and product...and brought it to the market quickly withvehicles that deliver on the rational level, and yet still excite."Zetsche also spoke of a need for the new breed of car guy to be comfortablein the arts of diplomacy and communication. "The difficult technicalchallenges we're taking on today to meet a host of customer, regulatory andmarket requirements will not be solved by just bending sheet metal, addingcubic inches, boosting horsepower or offering new trim packages," he added.But Zetsche also noted that, "as much as things change in thisindustry...with all of the highly technical challenges in safety,emissions, alternative fuels, you name it...it still comes down to buildinggreat product."Earlier in the week, when he was named Automotive Industries' "2003Executive of the Year," Zetsche voiced similar sentiments outliningChrysler's unique passion for developing segment-defining, aspirationalproducts. He said, "passion is only half of a successful product equation.It must be balanced with a commitment to process discipline that makesautomotive innovation relevant in the marketplace.""We have dedicated ourselves to being the industry leader in productinnovation - - and to continually use our 'creative DNA' to produce anunending series of aspirational cars and trucks that people will want toown and drive. Along the way, we are working to create a very distinctivecar company - - and a new model for industry leadership for years to come."