2018 has given us a number of wild stories, but it’s often the people behind those stories that are the most interesting part. In this article, I’ll be taking a look at five individuals whose stories will help shape the green car community in 2019.
Check out the list, then let us know whose stories you’ll be most looking forward to following next year in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
Few people have done more to champion the cause of electric cars than Carlos Ghosn. As head the Renault-Nissan Alliance, Ghosn vowed to put 1.5 million EVs on the road by 2020 … and that way way back in 2013! You can imagine our surprise, then, when Ghosn was not only arrested in Japan on charges of tax evasion– but released and immediately re-arrested on new charges of aggravated breach of trust!!
Ghosn is accused of transferring a number of his personal investment losses to Nissan in October 2008, when, in the fog of the global financial crisis, he convinced Nissan to take over a personal derivative contract carrying 1.85 billion yen (about $16.6 million) in losses.
There’s a lot more to the story, which involves Ghosn transferring that debt again into the hands of an unnamed third party to conceal his misdeeds. If the accusations are true, they would constitute a “special breach of trust” violation under Japan’s company law. That’s a criminal charge that signifies an executive has abused his position for personal gain. Meanwhile, Ghosn’s daughter, Caroline Ghosn, believes her father is being targeted by forces within Nissan who oppose “the merger my dad was setting up” with Renault.
Ghosn has been widely hailed as one of the most influential auto executives of the last decade, and– whatever ends up happening– the chance to “read all about it” should prove to be truly compelling stuff!
If you want to see a CEO that is shaking up a massive industry giant with a scrappy, underdog image and a “can-do” attitude, move right along. Siddhartha Lal is no underdog. Siddhartha Lal is an unkown Goliath who is just now stepping out into the light of history.
For those of you who don’t know, Lal is the CEO of India’s Royal Enfield motorcycles. Royal Enfield is a small, niche brand in the US that sells antiquated, air-cooled middleweight bikes that look exactly like what you’d expect a British motorcycle to look like. In 1968.
That may sound like a stinging criticism, but holy shit, you guys– have you seen how freakin’ gorgeous British motorcycles were in the 1960s!?
Royal Enfield has, and they’ve not only doubled down on that classic styling, but they’ve carefully updated their offerings with more modern tires, brakes, suspension, and even fuel injection components in a bid to make their bikes ride the way that you remember 60’s bikes rode, if not the way they actually rode. You follow me, here? It’s a fine, delicate balance, but one look at Lal will tell you he is absolutely the guy to find that edge.
In nearly every photo of Siddhartha Lal you’ll find online, he looks like the customer that every motorcycle company is trying to seduce. He’s stylish, successful, masculine, young, and absolutely, 100% gets it. The guy oozes cool in exactly the way that an army of accountants and drywall contractors rolling into town on $50,000 open-piped Harleys don’t, and his moves in 2018 have already forced Harley-Davidson to slash their prices in India by over 30%.
I can’t wait to see what Lal has in store for 2019, but I’m hoping it has something to do with that painfully beautiful Concept KX V-Twin concept he showed off at EICMA earlier this year.
Vernon “Pedo Guy” Unsworth
Vernon Unsworth is one of the British rescue divers responsible for rescuing a group of 12 boys and their football coach who became stranded in a cave in Thailand earlier this year. For his efforts, Unsworth has received an MBE from Queen Elizabeth and the nickname “Pedo Guy” from Tesla Motors CEO, Elon Musk.
Mr. Unsworth is, of course, suing Elon Musk– who doubled down on his assertions that the British diver was a pedophile a few times in now-deleted tweets– for public defamation. News of the lawsuit was broken, hilariously, by Unsworth’s attorney on Twitter …
— Lin Wood (@LLinWood) August 29, 2018
… and serves to remind the public at large that Elon Musk has more than a bit of a temper, and that claims of his instability– as well as his willingness to intentionally, fraudulently, and unrepentantly violate SEC rules to manipulate stock prices in order to spite his critics— are well-founded.
Here’s hoping, then, that Unsworth’s defamation lawsuit only manages to hurt Elon, himself, and not tarnish Tesla, the Boring Company, Space X, or any of the other massively inspiring endeavors that the ultimately flawed Musk has launched (so far).
The Grand Prix of Monaco, the 24 Hours of LeMans, and the Indianapolis 500. These three, thrilling spectacles make up the Triple Crown of motorsport. In more than a century of auto racing, only Graham Hill has successfully won all three events. So far, anyway– Fernando Alonso hopes to become the second in 2019.
Despite the challenge presented– and the fact that guys named Andretti, Montoya, and Fittipaldi have failed to make it happen– you’d be hard pressed to find someone in the motor racing world who doesn’t think Alonso is the guy to do it. The two-time World Drivers’ Champion has already won at Monaco twice, and scored his first LeMans victory behind the wheel of a Toyota hybrid last June. As for Indy, Alonso was leading the race in 2017 (his first attempt) when the Honda engine powering his Andretti racer gave up on him.
In 2019, McLaren is expected to be back at Indy with Chevy power, a dedicated new team, and Fernando Alonso once again behind the wheel. Victory, of course, is far from guaranteed– but Alonso is one of the all time greats, and he intends to cement that fact at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It seems like it’s just a matter of time before he takes the Triple Crown, and I can’t wait to read about it!
Claire Williams is one of the most talked-about women in motorsports right now– and that has more to do with the decline of Williams F1 than anything else. The team’s sharp decline, from Formula 1’s “best of the rest” in 2014 and ’15 to dead last in 2018, is a team failure owing to a lack of aerodynamic efficiency and a an inability to capitalize on Mercedes power. These are complicated things to figure out, of course– but there are far too many voices out there saying that the cause of the team’s fall is a much simpler thing: having a woman in charge.
Granted, there are limp-dicks everywhere who will jump at the chance to attack a competent woman from behind a keyboard, but this feels different. Maybe it’s because Sauber, too, fell from grace at the hands of a woman– Monisha Kaltenborn, the first female team principal in the sport’s history– and because Sauber has once again surged to the sharp end of the midfield this season with new head, Frédéric Vasseur. The fear being that, if Claire can’t pull Williams out of the gutter (and soon), women will lose decades of progress in motorsports.
You have to hand it to Claire Williams, though. The lady has balls.
To help Williams forward, Claire has made some dramatic moves. Recently, the team added Paddy Lowe, who was one of the architects of Mercedes’ dominance in the turbo-hybrid era (2014-now), but the real drama has been in her driver signings. The first is George Russell, the young brit who upset Lando Norris in the final round of the Formula 2 championship is being touted as a future champion … the second is the legendary Robert Kubica.
Robert Kubica is from the same generation of drivers as Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, and Lewis Hamilton. He was the fastest of them all, too– according to his competitors, anyway– before a massive accident in 2011 saw his right arm “partially amputated”, ending what was sure to be a brilliant racing career. That’s what we thought, anyway– because Kubica is back, and it’s hoped that his natural talent and ability to develop a car will help Williams (and, let’s face it, Russell) move back to the front. Where, if I might add, the sport’s third most successful team belongs.
Of course, Claire won’t get the credit for pulling Williams back to the front on the back of some pretty ballsy personnel calls. She’ll just get the blame if they fail. She knows better, of course– and so should you.
Original content from Gas 2.