2016 review: People of the year

Let’s face it; we won’t exactly look back at 2016 with misty-eyed fondness, however, amidst the doom and gloom these men brought a ray of positivity to the world of motoring. All rise!
By Dejan Jovanovic, Features Writer
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December 31, 2016
Elon Musk
Elon Musk(1/9)
Gordon Murray
Gordon Murray(2/9)
Sasha Selipanov
Sasha Selipanov(3/9)
Andy Palmer
Andy Palmer(4/9)
Michael Mauer
Michael Mauer(5/9)
Carlos Ghosn
Carlos Ghosn(6/9)
Akio Toyoda
Akio Toyoda(7/9)
Tobias Moers
Tobias Moers(8/9)
Peter Mullin
Peter Mullin(9/9)

Elon Musk

You’re talking about a guy who sold nearly half a billion dollars worth of cars that don’t exist. And that’s just when he’s not inventing solar roofs that cost less than traditional shingles or successfully landing space rockets upright on four carbon-fibre retractable legs. Oh and about the car, the approximately 400,000 people who ordered the Model 3 compact car are scheduled to start receiving them in the latter half of 2017.

Gordon Murray

When legendary designer Gordon Murray began working on the McLaren F1, widely regarded as one of the greatest road cars of the 20th century, he never intended it to go racing. And still the F1 won the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1995 against prototype competition. Yet, Murray says designing his new low-cost flat-pack OX truck was a prouder achievement in his career, a career that includes some of the most powerful racing cars of all time with Brabham F1. The OX is a vehicle built for developing regions with a high ground clearance, excellent approach and departure angles, multipurpose layout and a three-seater cab.

Sasha Selipanov

Georgian-born Russian-national Sasha Selipanov’s claim to fame was a fantasy Ferrari he designed, virtually spreading it like wildfire across the internet. After graduating from the Art Center College of Design in California Selipanov went to the Volkswagen Group, where he rose to design the new Bugatti Chiron. After that highlight where do you go next? This year Selipanov accepted the challenge of joining Luc Donckerwolke in building a new brand, Hyundai’s luxury arm Genesis.

Andy Palmer

After Andy Palmer took over as Aston Martin’s boss in 2014 he’s had nothing but glory, basking in the success of the new DB11 flagship GT and the spotlight shining on the AM-RB 001 hypercar. Why not enjoy the good times? Palmer represents his brand wherever he goes because earlier this year he bought himself a classic 1980 V8 Vantage, one of his dream cars, with his own cash. Nice choice.

Michael Mauer

The man who finally fixed the Porsche Panamera’s looks… While the Panamera is undoubtedly a huge success for Porsche — a bestselling Porsche that isn’t an SUV — it has always had a weight hanging over its shoulders. That is to say that hideous hunch that made it look like a whale. All it took was for Porsche’s new head of design Michael Mauer to gently massage the rear to turn the second-generation Panamera into a serious looker. Now we’re even more excited for the Shooting Brake…

Carlos Ghosn

Remember Nissan, circa 1999, on the brink of collapse, when Renault’s boss Carlos Ghosn stepped in to snap up the ailing Japanese company to form the Renault-Nissan alliance, which went on to earn a top-five spot in the world’s largest manufacturers list? This year Ghosn pounced on struggling Mitsubishi — Japan’s sixth-biggest carmaker that’s just posted a $5bn quarterly loss… — with a $2.3bn stake in the company and the chairman’s seat. Watch this space.

Akio Toyoda

The president and CEO of ToMoCo, Akio Toyoda, a direct descendant of Toyota founder Sakichi Toyoda, is proving to be a man of his word after promising to turn around his company, and particularly to ensure Lexus shakes its boring image. Toyoda backed it up this year with the impressive Lexus LC500 coupé, which apart from looking like nothing else on the market drives with the fervour of an old-school sportscar, making it stand out in a segment full of conformity.

Tobias Moers

If there’s anyone out there on the AMG > M side of the fence, that’ll be largely down to Tobias Moers. An Affalterbach lifer, Moers joined AMG shortly after completing his studies in the early Nineties, and rose to the position of CEO in 2013. This is the kind of boss you want behind you. At the E 63 S launch in Portugal AMG’s development head Mathias Schöttle told wheels: “Tobias wants to be involved in all the cars. At the Nordschleife he is just two seconds off our best drivers. It is challenging to work for him, but he is one of the great motivators.”

Peter Mullin

This year the Petersen Automotive Museum’s chairman as well as founder of the Mullin Automotive Museum received a Personal Achievement award in the 2016 International Historic Motoring Awards, and made more headlines at the reopening of the stunning Petersen after its $125m (Dh459m) renovation.