According to The Drive, Elon Musk is the most influential person in the car business. Mike Guy, editor of The Drive, says, “This is the most important time in the automotive world in a century. Everything is up for grabs with cars—the design, the drivetrain, the business model, the fuel, who’s behind the wheel (man or machine?). The auto industry is a $1 trillion enterprise in the United States, shimmering with innovation and intrigue. Last year, American customers purchased 17,470,000 new cars—breaking the previous annual record set in 2000. The best part is car companies aren’t just selling more cars, they are selling more really good cars than ever.”

Elon Musk

And why does The Drive put Elon Musk at the top of the list as the most influential person in the car business? Let’s make a list of the innovations in the industry that Elon has spearheaded in the past decade:

  1. High quality electric cars that people actually want to buy.
  2. Autonomous driving technology.
  3. A network of high power charging stations.
  4. Direct to consumer sales model.

Any one of those would qualify him for first place in The Drive rankings. But four disruptive, game changing accomplishments? That’s unheard of.

Who is number two? Barak Obama. The Drive gives the president high honors for pulling the car business back from the brink of disaster when the economy imploded 7 years ago. People can debate whether the government should have become involved in the industry to the extent it did (and let’s not even get into the subject of why none of the people who created the mess were held accountable) but can you imagine what the industry would be like today if it hadn’t? If there was no General Motors and no Chrysler?

Here are the names that complete the Top 10.

3. Sergio Marchionne, 63; CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ferrari
4. Li Shufu; Chairman of Geely
5. Roger Penske, 79; Chairman of the Penske Corporation
6. Charles Breyer, 74; Judge of the United States District Court
7. Mark Fields, 55; CEO of Ford Motor Company
8. Raj Nair, 50; CTO and executive VP of product development, Ford Motor Company
9. Ratan Tata, 78; Former Chairman of Tata Group
10. Mary Barra, 54; CEO of General Motors

You may quibble about some of those other names. I would not have Marshionne in my personal ranking, for example. But there is little question that Elon Musk richly deserves his position at the top of the list.

Source: The Drive  Photo credit: Tesla Motors