The automotive industry is a behemoth. Last year (2015), sales of new vehicles around the world reached $1.7 billion according to industry reports. In the U.S. today, automotive manufacturing employs more than seven million people, contributes $205 billion to state and federal tax revenue, and automotive companies have invested nearly $50 billion into U.S. factories and manufacturing facilities since 2010. All this is according to The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which advocates for promoting and growing the automotive sector in the U.S. Clearly the automotive industry remains an integral part of the global economy. And it is run by some very powerful people. Here is a list of the 10 most powerful people in the automotive business today.
10. Sebastian Thrun
Who is Sebastian Thrun, you ask? Well, he is the Director of the Artificial Intelligence Lab at Stanford University in California. What does that have to do with cars, you wonder? Well, Sebastian Thrun and his Artificial Intelligence Lab have helped to develop Google’s driverless car. The first completely autonomous vehicle in the world. We agree. Pretty impressive. A professor of computer science and electrical engineering at Stanford University, Sebastien Thrun runs the A.I. Lab on campus. And he used his smarts to develop and build “Stanley,” a driverless car for Google that won the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge, and is now on display at the Smithsonian. A group of 15 engineers at Google are today working to perfect driverless cars and make them functional for everyday driving in urban and rural locations. But they would be nowhere without Sebastian Thrun and his lab’s early work.